Chad Carr's tumor gives researchers new genetic clues for DIPG

Posted at 12:33 PM, Sep 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-14 14:05:20-04

Nearly two years after 5-year-old Chad Carr lost his battle to a deadly brain tumor called diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG), his tumor is now giving researchers new information about genetic clues related to the disease.

Chad, the grandson of former Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr, died at the age of 5 in 2015 after a 14-month battle with DIPG.

His family decided to donate tumor tissue from his brain after his death so that researchers could help find new information about the disease.

According to researchers, they were able to sequence and analyze samples from one time point from six different regions of the tumor. They found that a mutation in a gene known as PTEN plays an early and important role in making DIPG so deadly. PTEN was not previously seen as a major driver behind the disease.

While some gene mutations don't have a drug that targets then PTEN has been targeted in both breast and prostate cancer, which could help future DIPG patients.

Because of Chad's story going national, more and more families are asking for biopsies or autopsies of tumors.

"We knew from early on in Chad's journey that we would do whatever we could to create change, and we knew Chad would be a part of that change," his mother, Tammi, said. "To now see all of the work that has been done in DIPG research and the discoveries that have been made, we are seeing Chad's gift have an incredible impact."