The mission of The ChadTough Foundation is to inspire and fund game-changing research to discover effective treatments for pediatric brain cancer, with an emphasis on Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). Collaboration with our charity partners and brilliant researchers from around the world is key to achieving this goal.

Over the summer, The ChadTough Foundation announced it would join forces with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) to support an Innovation Grant for Dr. Wolf-Dietrich Heyer of the University of California, Davis. We are honored to align our work with a foundation that exemplifies collaboration and a dedication to finding better treatments and cures for all kids with cancer. Through our partnership with ALSF, we are proud to leverage our resources and funding to amplify our efforts in the fight against pediatric brain cancer. To learn more about ALSF, visit If you’d like to take a deeper dive into what Dr. Heyer is working on, read below!

Dr. Heyer’s study aims to create a drug for high-grade brain cancers that differentiates cancer cells from normal cells by targeting biological processes unique to cancer cells in a specific patient. This strategy of personalized, or precision, medicine creates a situation that kills tumor cells but not normal cells.

The fundamental paradigm of cancer therapy is moving from conventional therapies, which poorly differentiate cancer cells from normal cells, to targeting biological processes, which are unique to cancer cells in a specific patient. In other words, this strategy kills tumor cells, leaving healthy cells alone.

Researchers are trying to exploit such a tumor-specific vulnerability in a significant fraction of pediatric brain and bone cancers by isolating inhibitors of an enzyme that are specifically required in these tumors but not in healthy tissue. Toward this goal, doctors have screened a large chemical library for compounds that inhibit the enzyme. They have also identified promising candidates that they are currently trying to validate and develop further into leads for initial drug development.

Doctor Heyer and his team are continuing the validation and medicinal chemistry evaluation of the initial screen. Suitable compounds will be moved to Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism, and Excretion (ADME) analysis, and then to Lead Optimization through structure-function analysis.

– Jennifer DeGregorio, Director of Communications, The ChadTough Foundation