Mohanish Deshmukh's laboratory published an article in the Proceedings of National Academy of Science in which they describe a mechanism by which cell death could be selectively induced in brain tumor cells but not neurons. They show that direct activation of the apoptotic pathway with cytochrome c has the ability to induce death in astrocytomas and medulloblastomas but not in neurons. This striking difference is attributed to Apaf-1 that is found in high levels in brain tumor cells whereas it is virtually undetectable in mature neurons. This research, which was conducted in collaboration with Dr. Sally Kornbluth's lab at Duke University, opens a novel opportunity for selectively killing the cancer cells in brain tumor therapy. The co-first author of this research was Yolanda Huang, an MD, PhD student in the Deshmukh lab.