Studies in several cancers (including brain, breast, prostate, ovarian, skin) suggest that only a small fraction of the cells within each tumor is capable of giving rise to another tumor. These tumor-initiating cells (also called cancer stem cells) are thought to be responsible for tumor development and recurrence and have been shown to be more aggressive and resistant to therapy than the bulk of the cells within tumors. It is not known whether meningiomas contain such cancer stem cells. Dr. Johnson’s laboratory is working to determine whether cancer stem cells exist in meningiomas. His goal is to isolate these cells and to characterize their properties using laboratory research and animal models.
Dr. Johnson’s work offers the promise of specifically studying the small proportion of meningioma cells that are responsible for meningioma growth and recurrence. A better understanding of what makes these cells different from other meningioma cells may help us to find new therapies for the treatment of meningiomas.