Studying the metabolism of slow-growing brain tumours using mice that develop low grade gliomas similar to those found in humans.
A team at the UCL Institute of Neurology, led by Professor Sebastien Brandner have created a pre-clinical model that may hold the key to understanding how low grade gliomas develop and identify new drug targets.
Animal models are one of the best ways to study brain tumours within the lab but can be difficult to develop due the complexity of the human brain, which is difficult to replicate in animals.
The pre-clinical model created by the team at UCL develops brain tumours which share many genetic and biochemical similarities with human tumours. This model will be used to investigate the role of an enzyme known as IDH1, which has been implicated in the development of low grade gliomas.
IDH1 has an important role in generating the energy that a cell needs to survive. Mutations to this enzyme have been found in young brain tumour patients and in 70% of astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas.
Patients with the mutated IDH1 enzyme are found to have slower growing tumours and a greater survival time than patients without this mutation. The team will be investigating how IDH1 impacts tumour growth and whether the ability of this enzyme to slow growth can be exploited to develop new treatments.
New treatments for low grade gliomas are essential: whilst the tumour may initially be slow growing, over time it can become more aggressive and resistant to treatment. We therefore urgently need effective new treatments to target low grade gliomas at an early stage and thus improve patient outcomes.
Research is the only way we will discover kinder, more effective treatments and, ultimately, stamp out brain tumours – for good! However, brain tumours are complex and research in to them takes a great deal of time and money.
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