ERROR! No headcode.htm file found.


Clinical Focus

  • Pediatric Hematology-Oncology

Academic Appointments

Research & Scholarship

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

Solid Tumors, Bone Sarcomas, Global Oncology, Health Disparities


All Publications

  • Artificial intelligence enables whole-body positron emission tomography scans with minimal radiation exposure. European journal of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging Wang, Y. J., Baratto, L., Hawk, K. E., Theruvath, A. J., Pribnow, A., Thakor, A. S., Gatidis, S., Lu, R., Gummidipundi, S. E., Garcia-Diaz, J., Rubin, D., Daldrup-Link, H. E. 2021


    PURPOSE: To generate diagnostic 18F-FDG PET images of pediatric cancer patients from ultra-low-dose 18F-FDG PET input images, using a novel artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm.METHODS: We used whole-body 18F-FDG-PET/MRI scans of 33 children and young adults with lymphoma (3-30years) to develop a convolutional neural network (CNN), which combines inputs from simulated 6.25% ultra-low-dose 18F-FDG PET scans and simultaneously acquired MRI scans to produce a standard-dose 18F-FDG PET scan. The image quality of ultra-low-dose PET scans, AI-augmented PET scans, and clinical standard PET scans was evaluated by traditional metrics in computer vision and by expert radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians, using Wilcoxon signed-rank tests and weighted kappa statistics.RESULTS: The peak signal-to-noise ratio and structural similarity index were significantly higher, and the normalized root-mean-square error was significantly lower on the AI-reconstructed PET images compared to simulated 6.25% dose images (p<0.001). Compared to the ground-truth standard-dose PET, SUVmax values of tumors and reference tissues were significantly higher on the simulated 6.25% ultra-low-dose PET scans as a result of image noise. After the CNN augmentation, the SUVmax values were recovered to values similar to the standard-dose PET. Quantitative measures of the readers' diagnostic confidence demonstrated significantly higher agreement between standard clinical scans and AI-reconstructed PET scans (kappa=0.942) than 6.25% dose scans (kappa=0.650).CONCLUSIONS: Our CNN model could generate simulated clinical standard 18F-FDG PET images from ultra-low-dose inputs, while maintaining clinically relevant information in terms of diagnostic accuracy and quantitative SUV measurements.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00259-021-05197-3

    View details for PubMedID 33527176

  • Small-molecule screen reveals synergy of cell cycle checkpoint kinase inhibitors with DNA-damaging chemotherapies in medulloblastoma. Science translational medicine Endersby, R., Whitehouse, J., Pribnow, A., Kuchibhotla, M., Hii, H., Carline, B., Gande, S., Stripay, J., Ancliffe, M., Howlett, M., Schoep, T., George, C., Andradas, C., Dyer, P., Schluck, M., Patterson, B., Tacheva-Gigorova, S. K., Cooper, M. N., Robinson, G., Stewart, C., Pfister, S. M., Kool, M., Milde, T., Gajjar, A., Johns, T., Wechsler-Reya, R. J., Roussel, M. F., Gottardo, N. G. 2021; 13 (577)


    Medulloblastoma (MB) consists of four core molecular subgroups with distinct clinical features and prognoses. Treatment consists of surgery, followed by radiotherapy and cytotoxic chemotherapy. Despite this intensive approach, outcome remains dismal for patients with certain subtypes of MB, namely, MYC-amplified Group 3 and TP53-mutated SHH. Using high-throughput assays, six human MB cell lines were screened against a library of 3208 unique compounds. We identified 45 effective compounds from the screen and found that cell cycle checkpoint kinase (CHK1/2) inhibition synergistically enhanced the cytotoxic activity of clinically used chemotherapeutics cyclophosphamide, cisplatin, and gemcitabine. To identify the best-in-class inhibitor, multiple CHK1/2 inhibitors were assessed in mice bearing intracranial MB. When combined with DNA-damaging chemotherapeutics, CHK1/2 inhibition reduced tumor burden and increased survival of animals with high-risk MB, across multiple different models. In total, we tested 14 different models, representing distinct MB subgroups, and data were validated in three independent laboratories. Pharmacodynamics studies confirmed central nervous system penetration. In mice, combination treatment significantly increased DNA damage and apoptosis compared to chemotherapy alone, and studies with cultured cells showed that CHK inhibition disrupted chemotherapy-induced cell cycle arrest. Our findings indicated CHK1/2 inhibition, specifically with LY2606368 (prexasertib), has strong chemosensitizing activity in MB that warrants further clinical investigation. Moreover, these data demonstrated that we developed a robust and collaborative preclinical assessment platform that can be used to identify potentially effective new therapies for clinical evaluation for pediatric MB.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/scitranslmed.aba7401

    View details for PubMedID 33472956

  • Differentiation of benign and malignant lymph nodes in pediatric patients on ferumoxytol-enhanced PET/MRI THERANOSTICS Muehe, A., Siedek, F., Theruvath, A., Seekins, J., Spunt, S. L., Pribnow, A., Hazard, F., Liang, T., Daldrup-Link, H. 2020; 10 (8): 3612?21


    The composition of lymph nodes in pediatric patients is different from that in adults. Most notably, normal lymph nodes in children contain less macrophages. Therefore, previously described biodistributions of iron oxide nanoparticles in benign and malignant lymph nodes of adult patients may not apply to children. The purpose of our study was to evaluate if the iron supplement ferumoxytol improves the differentiation of benign and malignant lymph nodes in pediatric cancer patients on 18F-FDG PET/MRI. Methods: We conducted a prospective clinical trial from May 2015 to December 2018 to investigate the value of ferumoxytol nanoparticles for staging of children with cancer with 18F-FDG PET/MRI. Ferumoxytol is an FDA-approved iron supplement for the treatment of anemia and has been used "off-label" as an MRI contrast agent in this study. Forty-two children (7-18 years, 29 male, 13 female) received a 18F-FDG PET/MRI at 2 (n=20) or 24 hours (h) (n=22) after intravenous injection of ferumoxytol (dose 5 mg Fe/kg). The morphology of benign and malignant lymph nodes on ferumoxytol-enhanced T2-FSE sequences at 2 and 24 h were compared using a linear regression analysis. In addition, ADCmean-values, SUV-ratio (SUVmax lesion/SUVmean liver) and R2*-relaxation rate of benign and malignant lymph nodes were compared with a Mann-Whitney-U test. The accuracy of different criteria was assessed with a receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curve. Follow-up imaging for at least 6 months served as the standard of reference. Results: We examined a total of 613 lymph nodes, of which 464 (75.7%) were benign and 149 (24.3%) were malignant. On ferumoxytol-enhanced T2-FSE images, benign lymph nodes showed a hypointense hilum and hyperintense parenchyma, while malignant lymph nodes showed no discernible hilum. This pattern was not significantly different at 2 h and 24 h postcontrast (p=0.82). Benign and malignant lymph nodes showed significantly different ferumoxytol enhancement patterns, ADCmean values of 1578 and 852 x10-6 mm2/s, mean SUV-ratios of 0.5 and 2.8, and mean R2*-relaxation rate of 127.8 and 84.4 Hertz (Hz), respectively (all p<0.001). The accuracy of ADCmean, SUV-ratio and pattern (area under the curve (AUC): 0.99; 0.98; 0.97, respectively) was not significantly different (p=0.07). Compared to these three parameters, the accuracy of R2* was significantly lower (AUC: 0.93; p=0.001). Conclusion: Lymph nodes in children show different ferumoxytol-enhancement patterns on MRI than previously reported for adult patients. We found high accuracy (>90%) of ADCmean, SUV-ratio, pattern, and R2* measurements for the characterization of benign and malignant lymph nodes in children. Ferumoxytol nanoparticle accumulation at the hilum can be used to diagnose a benign lymph node. In the future, the delivery of clinically applicable nanoparticles to the hilum of benign lymph nodes could be harnessed to deliver theranostic drugs for immune cell priming.

    View details for DOI 10.7150/thno.40606

    View details for Web of Science ID 000518768400016

    View details for PubMedID 32206111

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7069081

  • Therapy Response Assessment of Pediatric Tumors with Whole-Body Diffusion-weighted MRI and FDG PET/MRI. Radiology Theruvath, A. J., Siedek, F. n., Muehe, A. M., Garcia-Diaz, J. n., Kirchner, J. n., Martin, O. n., Link, M. P., Spunt, S. n., Pribnow, A. n., Rosenberg, J. n., Herrmann, K. n., Gatidis, S. n., Schäfer, J. F., Moseley, M. n., Umutlu, L. n., Daldrup-Link, H. E. 2020: 192508


    Background Whole-body diffusion-weighted (DW) MRI can help detect cancer with high sensitivity. However, the assessment of therapy response often requires information about tumor metabolism, which is measured with fluorine 18 fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET. Purpose To compare tumor therapy response with whole-body DW MRI and FDG PET/MRI in children and young adults. Materials and Methods In this prospective, nonrandomized multicenter study, 56 children and young adults (31 male and 25 female participants; mean age, 15 years ± 4 [standard deviation]; age range, 6-22 years) with lymphoma or sarcoma underwent 112 simultaneous whole-body DW MRI and FDG PET/MRI between June 2015 and December 2018 before and after induction chemotherapy ( identifier: NCT01542879). The authors measured minimum tumor apparent diffusion coefficients (ADCs) and maximum standardized uptake value (SUV) of up to six target lesions and assessed therapy response after induction chemotherapy according to the Lugano classification or PET Response Criteria in Solid Tumors. The authors evaluated agreements between whole-body DW MRI- and FDG PET/MRI-based response classifications with Krippendorff ? statistics. Differences in minimum ADC and maximum SUV between responders and nonresponders and comparison of timing for discordant and concordant response assessments after induction chemotherapy were evaluated with the Wilcoxon test. Results Good agreement existed between treatment response assessments after induction chemotherapy with whole-body DW MRI and FDG PET/MRI (? = 0.88). Clinical response prediction according to maximum SUV (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve = 100%; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 99%, 100%) and minimum ADC (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve = 98%; 95% CI: 94%, 100%) were similar (P = .37). Sensitivity and specificity were 96% (54 of 56 participants; 95% CI: 86%, 99%) and 100% (56 of 56 participants; 95% CI: 54%, 100%), respectively, for DW MRI and 100% (56 of 56 participants; 95% CI: 93%, 100%) and 100% (56 of 56 participants; 95% CI: 54%, 100%) for FDG PET/MRI. In eight of 56 patients who underwent imaging after induction chemotherapy in the early posttreatment phase, chemotherapy-induced changes in tumor metabolism preceded changes in proton diffusion (P = .002). Conclusion Whole-body diffusion-weighted MRI showed significant agreement with fluorine 18 fluorodeoxyglucose PET/MRI for treatment response assessment in children and young adults. © RSNA, 2020 Online supplemental material is available for this article.

    View details for DOI 10.1148/radiol.2020192508

    View details for PubMedID 32368961

  • Comparison of ferumoxytol- and gadolinium chelate-enhanced MRI for assessment of sarcomas in children and adolescents. European radiology Siedek, F., Muehe, A. M., Theruvath, A. J., Avedian, R., Pribnow, A., Spunt, S. L., Liang, T., Farrell, C., Daldrup-Link, H. E. 2019


    OBJECTIVES: We compared the value of ferumoxytol (FMX)- and gadolinium (Gd)-enhanced MRI for assessment of sarcomas in paediatric/adolescent patients and hypothesised that tumour size and morphological features can be equally well assessed with both protocols.METHODS: We conducted a retrospective study of paediatric/adolescent patients with newly diagnosed bone or soft tissue sarcomas and both pre-treatment FMX- and Gd-MRI scans, which were maximal 4 weeks apart. Both protocols included T1- and T2-weighted sequences. One reader assessed tumour volumes, signal-to-noise ratios (SNR) of the primary tumour and adjacent tissues and contrast-to-noise ratios (CNR) ofFMX- and Gd-MRI scans. Additionally, four readers scored FMX- and Gd-MRI scansaccording to15 diagnostic parameters, using a Likert scale. The results were pooled across readers and compared between FMX- and Gd-MRI scans. Statistical methods included multivariate analyses with different models.RESULTS: Twenty-two patients met inclusion criteria (16 males, 6 females; mean age 15.3 ± 5.0). Tumour volume was not significantly different on T1-LAVA (p = 0.721), T1-SE (p = 0.290) and T2-FSE (p = 0.609)sequences. Compared to Gd-MRI, FMX-MRI demonstrated significantly lower tumour SNR on T1-LAVA (p < 0.001), equal tumour SNR on T1-SE (p = 0.104) and T2-FSE (p = 0.305), significantly higher tumour-to-marrow CNR (p < 0.001) on T2-FSE as well as significantly highertumour-to-liver (p = 0.021) and tumour-to-vessel (p = 0.003) CNR on T1-LAVAimages. Peritumoural and marrow oedema enhancedsignificantly more on Gd-MRIcompared to FMX-MRI (p < 0.001/p = 0.002, respectively). Tumour thrombi and neurovascular bundle involvement were assessed with a significantly higher confidence on FMX-MRI (both p < 0.001).CONCLUSIONS: FMX-MRI provides equal assessment of the extent of bone and soft tissue sarcomas compared to Gd-MRI with improvedtumour delineation and improved evaluation of neurovascular involvement and tumour thrombi. Therefore,FMX-MRI is a possiblealternative to Gd-MRIfor tumour staging in paediatric/adolescent sarcoma patients.KEY POINTS: Ferumoxytol can be used as an alterative to gadolinium chelates for MRI staging ofpaediatric sarcomas. Ferumoxytol-enhanced MRI provides equal assessment of tumour size and other diagnostic parameters compared to gadolinium chelate-enhanced MRI. Ferumoxytol-enhanced MRI provides improved delineation of sarcomas from bone marrow, liver and vessels compared to gadolinium chelate-enhanced MRI.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00330-019-06569-y

    View details for PubMedID 31844962

  • TARGETING THE RB PATHWAY IN MEDULLOBLASTOMA Jonchere, B., Stripay, J., Pribnow, A., Zindy, F., Min, J., Freeman, B., Shelat, A., Rankovic, Z., Roussel, M. OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC. 2019: 187
  • Clinical genome sequencing uncovers potentially targetable truncations and fusions of MAP3K8 in spitzoid and other melanomas. Nature medicine Newman, S., Fan, L., Pribnow, A., Silkov, A., Rice, S. V., Lee, S., Shao, Y., Shaner, B., Mulder, H., Nakitandwe, J., Shurtleff, S., Azzato, E. M., Wu, G., Zhou, X., Barnhill, R., Easton, J., Nichols, K. E., Ellison, D. W., Downing, J. R., Pappo, A., Potter, P. M., Zhang, J., Bahrami, A. 2019


    Spitzoid melanoma is a specific morphologic variant of melanoma that most commonly affects children and adolescents, and ranges on the spectrum of malignancy from low grade to overtly malignant. These tumors are generally driven by fusions of ALK, RET, NTRK1/3, MET, ROS1 and BRAF1,2. However, in approximately 50% of cases no genetic driver has been established2. Clinical whole-genome and transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq) of a spitzoid tumor from an adolescent revealed a novel gene fusion of MAP3K8, encoding a serine-threonine kinase that activates MEK3,4. The patient, who had exhausted all other therapeutic options, was treated with a MEK inhibitor and underwent a transient clinical response. We subsequently analyzed spitzoid tumors from 49patients by RNA-Seq and found in-frame fusions or C-terminal truncations of MAP3K8 in 33% of cases. The fusion transcripts and truncated genes all contained MAP3K8 exons 1-8 but lacked the autoinhibitory final exon. Data mining of RNA-Seq from the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) uncovered analogous MAP3K8 rearrangements in 1.5% of adult melanomas. Thus, MAP3K8 rearrangements-uncovered by comprehensive clinical sequencing of a single case-are the most common genetic event in spitzoid melanoma, are present in adult melanomas and could be amenable to MEK inhibition.

    View details for PubMedID 30833747

  • Ferumoxytol Does Not Impact Standardized Uptake Values on PET/MR Scans. Molecular imaging and biology : MIB : the official publication of the Academy of Molecular Imaging Muehe, A. M., Yerneni, K. n., Theruvath, A. J., Thakor, A. S., Pribnow, A. n., Avedian, R. n., Steffner, R. n., Rosenberg, J. n., Hawk, K. E., Daldrup-Link, H. E. 2019


    Tumor response assessments on positron emission tomography (PET)/magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans require correct quantification of radiotracer uptake in tumors and normal organs. Historically, MRI scans have been enhanced with gadolinium (Gd)-based contrast agents, which are now controversial due to brain deposition. Recently, ferumoxytol nanoparticles have been identified as an alternative to Gd-based contrast agents because they provide strong tissue enhancement on MR images but are not deposited in the brain. However, it is not known if the strong T1- and T2-contrast obtained with iron oxide nanoparticles such as ferumoxytol could affect MR-based attenuation correction of PET data. The purpose of our study was to investigate if ferumoxytol administration prior to a 2-deoxy-2-[18F]fluoro-D-glucose [18F]FDG PET/MR scan would change standardized uptake values (SUV) of normal organs.Thirty pediatric patients (6-18 years) with malignant tumors underwent [18F]FDG-PET/MR scans (dose 3 MBq/kg). Fifteen patients received an intravenous ferumoxytol injection (5 mg Fe/kg) prior to the [18F]FDG-PET/MR scans (group 1). Fifteen additional age- and sex-matched patients received unenhanced [18F]FDG-PET/MR scans (group 2). For attenuation correction of PET data, we used a Dixon-based gradient echo sequence (TR 4.2 ms, TE 1.1, 2.3 ms, FA 5), which accounted for soft tissue, lung, fat, and background air. We used a mixed linear effects model to compare the tissue MRI enhancement, quantified as the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), as well as tissue radiotracer signal, quantified as SUVmean and SUVmax, between group 1 and group 2. Alpha was assumed at 0.05.The MRI enhancement of the blood and solid extra-cerebral organs, quantified as SNR, was significantly higher on ferumoxytol-enhanced MRI scans compared to unenhanced scans (p??0.05).Ferumoxytol administration prior to a [18F]FDG PET/MR scan did not change standardized uptake values (SUV) of solid extra-cerebral organs. This is important, because it allows injection of ferumoxytol contrast prior to a PET/MRI procedure and, thereby, significantly accelerates image acquisition times.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s11307-019-01409-3

    View details for PubMedID 31325083

  • Outcomes for pediatric patients with osteosarcoma treated with palliative radiotherapy. Pediatric blood & cancer Chen, E. L., Yoo, C. H., Gutkin, P. M., Merriott, D. J., Avedian, R. S., Steffner, R. J., Spunt, S. L., Pribnow, A. K., Million, L. n., Donaldson, S. S., Hiniker, S. M. 2019: e27967


    Few studies have addressed the efficacy of palliative radiotherapy (RT) for pediatric osteosarcoma (OS), a disease generally considered to be radioresistant. We describe symptom relief, local control, and toxicity associated with palliative RT among children with OS.Patients diagnosed with OS at age 18 and under and treated with RT for palliation of symptomatic metastases or local recurrence at the primary site from 1997 to 2017 were included. We retrospectively reviewed details of RT, symptom improvement, local control, survival, and toxicity.Thirty-two courses of palliative RT were given to 20 patients with symptomatic metastatic and/or locally recurrent primary disease. The median equivalent dose in 2 Gy fractions (EQD2) was 40.0 Gy (range, 20.0-60.4). The median number of fractions per course was 15 (range, 5-39). Symptom improvement occurred in 24 (75%) courses of RT at a median time of 15.5 days (range, 3-43). In nine courses (37.5%), symptoms recurred after a median duration of symptom relief of 140 days (range, 1-882). Higher EQD2 correlated with longer duration of response (r = 0.39, P = 0.0003). Imaging revealed local failure in 3 of 14 courses followed with surveillance imaging studies (21.4%). The median time to progression was 12.9 months (range, 4.4-21.8). The median follow-up time following the first course of palliative RT was 17.5 months (range, 1.74-102.24), and median time to overall survival was 19.4 months. Toxicity was mild, with grade 2 toxicity occurring in one course (3.1%).RT is an effective method of symptom palliation for patients with recurrent or metastatic OS, with higher delivered dose correlating with longer symptom relief and with little associated toxicity.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/pbc.27967

    View details for PubMedID 31407520

  • Effects of malnutrition on treatment-related morbidity and survival of children with cancer in Nicaragua. Pediatric blood & cancer Pribnow, A. K., Ortiz, R., Báez, L. F., Mendieta, L., Luna-Fineman, S. 2017


    Most children with cancer live in resource-limited countries where malnutrition is often prevalent. We identified the relationship between malnutrition and treatment-related morbidity (TRM), abandonment of therapy, and survival of children with cancer in Nicaragua to better inform targeted nutritional interventions.We conducted a retrospective review of patients aged 6 months to 18 years with newly diagnosed acute lymphoblastic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia (AML), Wilms tumor, Hodgkin lymphoma, or Burkitt lymphoma (BL) who were treated between January 1, 2004, and December 31, 2007 at Children's Hospital Manuel de Jesus Rivera in Managua, Nicaragua. Statistical analysis examined the relations among nutritional status and cancer type, risk category, TRM, and event-free survival (EFS).Sixty-seven percent of patients (189/282) were malnourished at diagnosis. Malnutrition was highest among patients with Wilms tumor (85.7%), BL (75%), and AML (74.3%). A total of 92.2% of patients (225/244) experienced morbidity during the first 90 days. Malnutrition was associated with severe infection (P = 0.033). Severely malnourished patients had ?grade 3 TRM on more days (P = 0.023) and were more likely to experience severe TRM on >50% of days (P = 0.032; OR, 3.27 [95% CI, 1.05-10.16]). Malnourished patients had inferior median EFS (2.25 vs. 5.58 years; P = 0.049), and abandoned therapy more frequently (P = 0.015).In Nicaragua, pediatric oncology patients with malnutrition at diagnosis experienced increased TRM, abandoned therapy more frequently, and had inferior EFS. Standardized nutritional evaluation of patients with newly diagnosed cancer and targeted provision of nutritional support are essential to decrease TRM and improve outcomes.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/pbc.26590

    View details for PubMedID 28449403

Stanford Medicine Resources: