Here at the Kwatra Lab, we are working to find targeted therapies for patients with glioblastoma (GBM). GBM is among the most aggressive and common primary brain tumors in adults. GBM patients have an extremely poor prognosis, and none of the current treatments (including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy) have been able to extend median survival beyond fifteen months. The goal of our laboratory is to modify the current standard of care for GBM patients by replacing the chemotherapy/radiation step with targeted therapy.

To develop targeted therapy, we must know the molecular pathways driving tumor growth. These pathways are likely to differ among GBM patients because GBMs are heterogeneous. Recent molecular characterization of GBMs by The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) resulted in the identification of four major subtypes: classical, mesenchymal, proneural, and neural. It is likely that each subtype will be found to be heterogeneous upon additional molecular characterization. Indeed this appears to be the case. We recently characterized a panel of twenty patient-derived glioblastoma xenografts (PDGXs) according to TCGA criteria, followed by proteomic characterization of the PDGXs and their corresponding primary tumors. We also found that epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which is one of the major proteins dys-regulated in GBM, is activated in seven PDGX (see our the preclinical models tab). It is our hope we can continue to use our preclinical models to find therapies for GBM patients using our strategy detailed below.


Our Mission: To modify the current standard of care for GBM patients to decrease tumor recurrence and increase patient survival by developing targeted therapies based on tumors’ molecular profiles.


Our StrategyClassify and Conquer. Classify GBMs into subsets that utilize a similar molecular machinery for their growth (identified using proteomics and genetic approaches) and use drugs (both known and new) to block both primary and secondary growth pathways.



Ongoing GBM Drug Development Projects

  1. Brain-penetrating irreversible EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor for the subset of GBMs with activated EGFR—funded by the NIH
  2. Development of an FDA-approved NK1R blocker for the subset of GBMs with activated NK1R—funded by Helsinn


MRI Scans


Left: Sagittal T1-weighted MRI showing normal brain.
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Middle left: Sagittal T1-weighted MRI showing a peripherally enhancing, centrally necrotic glioblastoma located in the frontal lobe causing significant swelling of surrounding tissue.
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Middle right: Sagittal T1-weighted MRI showing peripherally enhancing, centrally necrotic glioblastoma located in the temporal lobe causing mass effect on surrounding tissue.
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Right: Sagittal T1-weighted MRI showing an occipital lobe glioblastoma tumor in a pediatric patient.

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Press Release: Collaboration with DelMar Pharmaceuticals

DelMar Pharmaceuticals has entered into a multi-year collaboration with Dr. Madan Kwatra, Director of the Glioblastoma Drug Discovery Group at Duke University for a project entitled, “Development of VAL-083, alone or in combination with other agents, to inhibit the growth of specific subsets of glioblastoma (personalized drug development).” The three-year preclinical study project has a …

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Press Release: Project Details To Establish Preclinical Models For AYA Glioblastoma Patients

Project Details Objective Glioblastoma in adolescent and young adults (AYA), an age group spanning 15 to 39 years, is molecularly different than glioblastoma in older adults over 50 years of age. Therefore, to develop an effective therapy against GBM in AYA patients, we need to develop preclinical models (glioblastoma stem cells [GSCs] and patient-derived glioblastoma …

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