Chad Carr was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, one of the most deadly forms of childhood cancer, in 2014. More commonly known as DIPG, the cancer causes an inoperable tumor to grow in a child’s brain that proves deadly to nearly 99 percent of those who receive the diagnosis.
Those statistics could change, however, thanks to the Carr family’s decision to donate Chad’s brain, in which researchers discovered an important gene mutation in his DIPG tumor that could potentially be controlled through an experimental treatment.
Carl Koschmann, a pediatric oncologist at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, published his team’s findings in the journal NPJ Precision Oncology on Thursday, identifying the genetic mutation as aphosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) loss. According to the Free Press, PTEN mutations have also been found in many adult cancers, which have already been the subject successful experimental treatments.
This is what gives the Carr family hope.
“Chad is changing the world,” Tammi Carr told the Free Press. “This brings meaning to his short life. … To see that they’ve come through with a breakthrough is incredible.”
How significant of a breakthrough it will be, time will tell, but Koschmann and his team in Michigan are hopeful.
“We now know a lot more than we did before we started this project on Chad’s tumor,” Koschmann told the Free Press. “And a part of the hope that we can give families is that we may be in new, uncharted territory and the kids being diagnosed right now may do better.”