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Research News

National brain tumour research funding needs to increase to £30-35 million a year

New team members and a tissue time machine

To begin this week’s roundup we wanted to introduce two new members of the team at Professor Silvia Marino’s lab at our Centre of Excellence at Queen Mary University of London. Alexandra Hadaway will be working on DIPG although her research is also likely to bring further insight into other types of tumours, including ependymoma. Her research focus will be analysing epigenetic regulation within these paediatric tumours, the biological relevance of this epigenetic regulation and how this is important to tumour development. Specifically, she will focus on the interactions of a promising complex that has been studied in medulloblastoma to see if that work is relevant in other brain tumours. Alexandra joins the team thanks to a generous donation from our Member Charity, The Children’s Brain Tumour Foundation, which was set up by Cheryl and Paul Davis following their son Miles’ diagnosis with an ependymoma, aged five.

Thomas Willott’s research will focus on group 4 medulloblastoma, which has relatively poor outcomes for patients due to the very limited understanding of how it develops and varies. Thomas’ project will focus on testing new treatment combinations to discover whether they show improved efficacy in preventing tumour growth, including new targeted therapies in combination with conventional chemotherapy agents at reduced doses to limit their detrimental side effects. Our Member Charity,  The William Low Trust, has committed to raise £143,657 to fund Thomas’ studentship. The charity’s contribution is in memory of  William, who was just five when he was diagnosed with an aggressive medulloblastoma. William fought a stoic battle and sadly passed away on 11th August 2017, just six weeks before his 18th birthday.

Staying in the topic of medulloblastoma, researchers based at the Children’s National Research Institute, Washington, DC have identified unique proteins in a patient’s individual tumour cells, allowing them to generate personalised T cells to target and kill tumours. This is reportedly the first effort to create a new workflow for neoantigen identification that incorporates both genetic sequencing and protein identification to create a personalised treatment for medulloblastoma in children. Given these findings, the researchers are now designing a Phase I clinical trial which they are hoping to open in 12–18 months.

This preclinical study was published in Nature Communications.

Researchers to tackle brain cancer with ‘tissue time machine.’ Researchers at the Sanger Institute are starting work on a Wellcome Leap programme, as part of the ‘Delta Tissue’ or ‘tissue time machine’ project.  The project aims to profile the state of cells and tissues and predict the transition between states.

The team, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Cambridge, the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ) and The Francis Crick Institute, will profile GBM tumours using the latest genomic techniques. The work will provide detail about the states of these cancer cells and their tissue microenvironment, and it is hoped it will uncover new targets for treatment development. Recent research has found that different states are highly dynamic in GBM, with cells transitioning from one state to another throughout tumour development, as well as in disease relapse after therapy.

Tumour mutational burden (TMB) is an emerging biomarker for the prediction of immunotherapy success in solid tumours. Gliomas, however, do not demonstrate a correlation between TMB and immunotherapy efficacy. This issue is considered in a review in the journal ‘ Trends in Cancer’, which describes potential factors influencing this discordance, focusing on the impact of neoantigen immunogenicity, clonality, expression, and presentation. You may have to pay to access this one.

New Phase 1/2 Data On NOX-A12 & Radiotherapy Combination in brain cancer was presented at SNO last weekend and showed a “a significant step forward in bringing NOX-A12 to glioblastoma patients. While a diagnosis of chemotherapy-resistant glioblastoma leads almost inevitably to systematic rapid progression of the disease, NOX-A12 combined with radiotherapy managed to achieve stable disease or an objective response in eight out of the nine patients.”

SNO is over for another year however there is always the SNO Online Education Center which promotes advancement in neuro-oncology research and education by providing access to online resources and enhances the scientific and clinical expertise within the field of neuro-oncology.

Finally this week here is a chance to read the NCRI’s guidance on cancer research proposals.

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