'It will allow one person’s tumor to be researched in many different ways to help everyone with that tumor.'

At age 5, Mary Scott Gallus needed three surgeries to remove a tennis ball-sized tumor from her brain.

Before the second surgery, her neurosurgeon posed a question to her parents: Would they donate this portion of her tumor to research? Mary Scott’s parents, A.J. and Tom Gallus, remember thinking that they would do anything to keep another family from having to endure their past few days.

Left to right: Tom Gallus, Dr. Ramin Eskandari, Mary Scott Gallus and A.J. Gallus pose with the first photo of the MSG cell line. Photo by Brennan Wesley.

In the year since Mary Scott’s successful surgeries, she has relearned how to walk and excelled in kindergarten. She also met her two goals: to swim and ride a bike again.

Her neurosurgeon, Dr. Ramin Eskandari, and colleague Dr. Arabinda Das met a goal, too.

At the Charleston Brain Tumor Walk on May 6, Dr. Eskandari surprised the Gallus family with a photo of Mary Scott’s cell line, grown in an MUSC lab. Cell lines replicate a tumor and allow researchers to perform experiments in hopes of creating less invasive, less painful treatments.

Up until now, according to Dr. Eskandari, no cell line existed for juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma, a rare and benign slow-growing type of tumor. Replicating Mary Scott’s cells in the lab, he said, could potentially reduce the need for chemotherapy, radiation and even surgery for children in the future.

“It will allow one person’s tumor to be researched in many different ways to help everyone with that tumor,” Dr. Eskandari said. And for that reason, he named the cell line MSG for Mary Scott Gallus – a tribute to a local brain tumor survivor could wind up in labs around the world, helping generations of patients to come.