The Ballester Laboratory focuses on the study of brain tumors. Dr. Ballester works in close collaboration with Yoshua Esquenazi, M.D. (neurosurgeon). We believe that the close integration of neurosurgery and neuropathology allows us to tackle complex problems in neuro-oncology in a unique way.
Research in the laboratory
A main area of research involves the discovery and validation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers for diagnosing and monitoring patients with central nervous system (CNS) tumors. Efforts in this area include analysis of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), extracellular vesicle micro RNAs (EV-miRNAs), and metabolites. Additionally, we are interested in developing novel biomarkers that allow the discrimination between tumor recurrence and the effects of radiation therapy on the brain, something that can be challenging on imaging studies alone.
Another area of focus is the relationship between gliomas and gut microbiome/metabolites. We are evaluating this through 16S rRNA sequencing and analysis of fecal metabolites in both mice and glioma patients. Efforts in the laboratory are being made to identify microbiome signatures that might predict patient outcomes. We are also interested in the relationship between the gut microbiome/metabolites and radiation-induced cognitive deficit, as well as the possibility of improving therapies for glioma patients through gut microbiome manipulation.
The University of Texas at MD Anderson Cancer Center
2130 W Holcombe Blvd.
Houston, TX 77030