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Research News

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

STING agonists, galectin and deep sea bacteria

Researchers have tested a STING (STimulator of INterferon Genes) drug that has been injected directly into the glioblastoma of five dogs. Glioblastoma is the second-most common type of brain cancer in dogs. STING agonists can induce immunological responses that allow the immune system to fight otherwise immunologically resistant cancer cells. MRI scans taken of the patients over the course of the 10-month trial revealed that some of the dogs, even with a single dose, responded to the treatment with apparent reductions in their tumour volume, including one complete response in which the tumour appeared to completely disappear. The team was able to conclude that this therapy can trigger a robust, innate anti-tumour immune response and may be highly effective on recalcitrant tumours such as glioblastoma. This work was published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research

Researchers striving to identify proteins that drive cancer stem cells believe targeting and suppressing a particular protein called galectin1 could provide a more effective treatment for glioblastoma, in combination with radiation therapy. Among all cancerous cells, some act as stem cells that reproduce themselves and sustain the cancer but by targeting the way these cells operate, researchers have found a new way to disrupt the production of new tumours. Basically, after being given the galectin1 protein, the brain tumours didn't grow for several months. This work was published in the journal Cell Reports.

This is a long form and fascinating read from The Smithsonian about Marizomib and how a marine bacteria species shows promise for curing glioblastoma. The sediments blanketing the ocean floor and the invertebrates that form its living terrain both contain a wealth of creatures invisible to the naked eye, including marine bacteria. Tiny as they are, these uncharismatic microbes play a critical role in recycling nutrients in the ocean and in feeding other organisms. Many also produce chemicals to defend themselves against predators and microbial pathogens, as well as to communicate and compete with other organisms. Because these compounds can attract, deter, or kill other microbes, some can also benefit people as potent antitumour agents, antibiotics, antivirals, and other drugs. Because deep-sea bacteria face different environmental challenges than their shallower and land-dwelling relatives, the compounds they produce could be unique as well. Marizomib is derived from a microbe found in the ocean at depths of up to 6,500 feet.

The FDA has granted an orphan drug designation to LP-184 as a potential therapeutic option for patients with glioblastoma multiforme and other malignant gliomas, LP – 184 is part of the oncology drug portfolio for Lantern Pharma. The next-generation alkylating agent was developed to preferentially damage DNA in tumour cells that overexpress select biomarkers or that harbour mutations in DNA repair pathways. Data from preclinical studies have demonstrated that treatment with the small molecule drug candidate resulted in significantly enhanced antitumor activity with a substantial reduction in toxicity vs earlier-generation acylfulvenes.

This is the first research news update in 18 months that I have produced working from our office in Milton Keynes, as opposed to working from home and as we return to a more outward facing working environment, we are taking the first steps to reinstating our lab tours. A crucial part of our research portfolio lab tours are a fantastic opportunity for supporters with a keen interest in the research we fund to hear latest ground-breaking updates from our expert world-class scientists.

Lab tours are usually a mix of presentations about the research, followed by a walk through the facilities, where our scientists introduce various aspects of their work and how they are looking at ways to fight brain tumours.

Visitors are able to ask questions about the research and understand how the work being undertaken is getting us closer to a cure. Our lab tours are popular and it's inspiring to see how people leave with so much new knowledge and passion to redouble their fundraising efforts. Our scientists find these tours motivational too as they hear the stories behind the fundraising endeavours that support their work and they frequently comment on the scientific knowledge of the visitors and the sophistication of their questioning.

Details on forthcoming lab tour and research centre events will be posted on our website and in this weekly update

Finally, we have been approached by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Surgical MedTech Cooperative (Surgical MIC) which is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care to support the development of medical technology for colorectal, vascular, neurosurgery and liver, gall bladder and pancreas surgery. Their role is to make sure that any medical devices or healthcare apps are focused on patient and clinical needs from an early stage and not just profit.  This means they often consult with patients and members of the public on the design and intended use of medical devices, reviewing lay summaries and just asking questions about how the intended device will support early detection of disease or better recovery after surgery.  More information is available on their website - 

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