Children diagnosed with low-grade astrocytomas, the most common type of pediatric brain tumor, have close to 90 percent overall survival rates. However, the growth of the tumors and the standard treatments required to control them can cause serious side effects, including damaging developing brains and bodies.

Researchers at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center recently led an in-depth exploration into the genetic makeup of the individual brain tumor cells with the hope that the findings will lead to new treatments to minimize or avoid ill effects for young patients, according to Pratiti (Mimi) Bandopadhayay, MBBS, PhD, neuro-oncologist and Pediatric Low-Grade Astrocytoma (PLGA) director at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s and recipient of a Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation Early Career Development grant.

A PLGA study conducted by Bandopadhayay and her colleagues appeared online this month in Nature Communications. The study used single-cell RNA sequencing to analyze cells’ individual activity and makeup, enabling researchers to compare the specific profiles of low-grade pilocytic astrocytoma to the makeup of normal cells and to identify the molecular changes that occur in the cancer.

A new article on Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Discoveries blog explores how teamwork between individuals, nonprofits like the PBTF and researchers have changed the landscape of science and treatments for kids battling brain cancer.

A major funder and driver of this research initiative — and many other research projects focused on low-grade astrocytomas — is the PBTF’s PLGA Fund. The PLGA Fund at PBTF continues the mission of A Kids’ Brain Tumor Cure, which merged with the PBTF last year, by fueling the most promising pediatric low-grade glioma and astrocytoma research.

“Our first project was raising money in 2007 to help launch the PLGA Program, which is exclusively focused on low-grade astrocytomas,” says PBTF’s PLGA Research and Advocacy director Amy Weinstein, who was AKBTC’s Executive Director prior to last year’s merger.

Read more about how this funding has led to advances in the treatment of PLGA tumors that may lead to improved outcomes for children and families in the not-too-distant future.