By Adeyemi Ayeku
Dr. Chibawanye Ene, a Nigerian-born US-based doctor, has won the 2019 Ronald L. Bittner Award on brain tumor research.
According to the Applied Radiation Oncology, a quarterly journal on cancer, Dr. Ene received the award at the 2019 American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) annual scientific meeting which held between the13th and 17th of April, 2019 in San Diego, United States.
The 37 years old Doctor, who hails from Akpugo in Nkanu west local government area of Enugu state, won the award with his research work titled: “Anti-PD-L1 Immunotherapy Enhances Radiation-induced Abscopal Response in Glioblastoma”.
Dr. Ene’s jouney to this feat began when he moved to the United States for college in 2000 and completed his undergraduate studies at Wayne State College, Nebraska with a major in Biology.
In 2004, he began medical school at the Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, US. In his third year, he received a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Fellowship to study the biology of glioblastoma-derived stem cells at the National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Health (NIH), Bethesda Maryland.
He received continued support through the NIH to continue his work towards a PhD at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. After graduating from Cambridge in 2011, he returned to Indiana for his final year of medical school and earned his MD in 2012.
His research interests include understanding the pathogenesis of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common primary brain tumors in adults.
Glioblastoma is an aggressive form of cancer that can occur in the brain or spinal cord with symptoms ranging from headaches to personality changes, nausea, and incontinence.
While immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that helps immune system fight cancer, although it has been largely unsuccessful in the treatment of Glioblastoma.
According to the journal, the molecular structure of the tumor found in that form of cancer only allows few of the cancerous cells to be eliminated during treatment.
The new findings in Dr. Ene’s research have shown promise for better treatment options, revealing that “radiation combined with Anti PD L1 therapy induces an immunological response to unirradiated glioblastoma”.
“The researchers are currently optimizing other treatment combinations that could also be readily assessed in phase I human clinical trials,” the journal said.
Endowed by E. Laurie Bittner in memory of her husband, the Ronald L. Bittner Award is given out yearly for the best abstract paper on brain tumor research submitted by a resident doctor or junior faculty member in the United States.