Michael Fisher Research Program

Led by Michael J. Fisher, MD, researchers in the Fisher Research Program are using clinical outcomes analyses and molecular profiling to improve existing cancer treatment protocols. They are also evaluating new, targeted cancer therapies that can be used to treat pediatric solid tumors, including plexiform neurofibromas, optic pathway gliomas and medulloblastomas. The long-term goal of the research conducted in this research program is to improve risk classification, better define treatment selection and evaluate new, targeted therapies that are more effective and less toxic than current treatment options for these tumors.

Researchers in the Fisher Research Program are part of a consortium conducting clinical trials to evaluate selumetinib (a MEK enzyme inhibitor of the RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK cancer pathway) as a treatment for children with inoperable plexiform neurofibromas. Results from a Phase I study showed that selumetinib effectively shrank tumors in two-thirds of the children in the trial. A Phase II trial is underway to further evaluate the effectiveness of selumetinib as a treatment for plexiform neurofibromas.

Other studies in the Fisher Research Program are focused on developing evidence-based clinical criteria to better define the time that treatment should be initiated to preserve vision or prevent vision loss in children with optic pathway glioma. As part of this effort, studies are underway to determine if there are molecular changes that cooperate with NF1 gene loss to better predict disease progression and treatment initiation.

Also, the Fisher Research Program is involved with clinical studies that are evaluating specific targeted cancer agents to improve the treatment options for children with optic pathway glioma.

Additional clinical studies are focused on using genomic analysis and clinical outcomes data to improve risk classification and better define treatment selection for pediatric medulloblastoma. The Fisher Research Program is participating in an ongoing Phase II clinical study designed to correlate different medulloblastoma molecular subtypes with specific clinical outcomes. Ultimately, clinical studies will be conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of different medulloblastoma treatment strategies for these tumor subtypes.

Future studies will continue to focus on improving risk classification, treatment selection and identification of safe and effective targeted cancer treatments for plexiform neurofibromas, optic pathway gliomas and medulloblastomas.