UNC, Duke join forces to help fight childhood brain cancer

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Tar Heel and a Blue Devil may seem like an unlikely pair to join forces, but off the court the two rivals are teaming up to help kids with brain cancer.

"We just don't have meetings during the winter months, during basketball season," joked Dr. Shawn Hingtgen.

The deep rivalry between Carolina and Duke is not standing in the way of innovative research.

"With using strength in numbers to attack this problem, we think we're going to make headway," Dr. Scott Floyd said.

Floyd is an Floyd is an Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology at Duke University School of Medicine. Hingtgen is the Associate Director at the Department of Neurosurgery at UNC School of Medicine

The pair and their teams are working together to create new, effective ways to fight childhood brain cancer.

"Like a loaf of bread, you can cut it (human tissue) into the slices," Tingtgen said. "We can then turn them sideways and it will sit there, and we will can grow things on the top."

They place a bit of a tumor on top and the testing begins.

"With new drugs, different therapies, just trying to find new ways to attack it," Floyd said.

"Everything from standardize care, chemotherapies, radiation, all the way through next gen gene therapy, biologic cell therapies across the platforms," Hingtgen said.

Their stem cell research is showing good results, but there is still a lot of work ahead and years of additional research on the horizon.

The goal, according to Hingtgen, is to ultimately create "new and better therapies that can actually help children and patients that simply don't have treatment options right now."

Floyd and Hingtgen's research is funded in part by Ian's Friends Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to funding the support of pediatric brain tumor research.
Copyright © 2021 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.