Graduate students work to advance brain tumor treatment research

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - With the number of pathologists decreasing in the United States, the University of Nevada, Reno is looking into machine learning software to be used in brain tumor treatment research.

UNR is looking to create specialized treatment for individual patients.

Dr. Bahram Parvin is a professor at UNR, specializing in electrical and biomedical engineering.

"Not every patient is subjected to the same therapy, but patients based of their pathology and molecular signature can receive a specific therapy," said Parvin. "That's the goal of our project."

The study focuses on glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer with a 6% survival rate in a five year period.

Garrett Winkelmaier is a PhD student working on this project.

"We do a lot of analytical work regarding glioblastoma patients," said Winkelmaier. “We have a large cohort of both histology sections which are biopsy tumors which have been scanned very thinned and analyzed with a digital imaging system."

The cohorts of people are treated as a group, from which national organizations collected data from about 500 patients with brain tumors.

"Being able to come up with the taxonomy of what group of patients respond to a particular type of therapy. Having done that, the next step is to validate that with an alternative cohort," explained Parvin. "Or laboratory models that we do here or validate here."

Dr. Parvin and his graduate students are conducting this study with a three year grant from the National Cancer Institute.

"We really hope to find new bio-markers that will allow for personalized medicine and tailor therapies to patients," added Winkelmaier. "So they can have a unique therapy that's better for them and improve their chances for survival."

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