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Making models of paediatric low grade glioma

Fast facts

  • Official title: SIGNAL – Striking Insensitive Paediatric Gliomas through Network AnaLysis (model development and data integration)
  • Lead researcher: Professor JP Martinez-Barbera
  • Where: Queen Mary University London and University College London
  • When: January 2017 – January 2020
  • Cost: £400,000
  • Research type: Paediatric, Glioma (Low Grade), Clinical Modelling, Academic

The researchers on this project – led by Professor Denise Sheer (Queen Mary’s University London) and Professor JP Martinez-Barbera (University College London) – are working to create pre-clinical models for childhood low grade brain tumours (glioma).

Pre-clinical models are used by scientists to test new treatments in the lab before they are then used in humans, as part of a clinical trial.

Up till now, it’s been difficult to create new models of low grade gliomas, because in humans a glioma does one of three things:

  • They grow extremely slowly
  • They stop growing completely
  • They transform suddenly into a high grade/faster-growing tumour

What impact will this project have?

Once we know the models work correctly, we can understand how the tumour can be treated and defeated. Low grade gliomas currently account for half of children with brain tumours, so this will be a significant advance.

What’s been achieved so far?

To make tumours in the lab grow like this we needed to understand why they change their behaviour. Recent research has revealed a number of mutations (spelling mistakes in the tumour’s DNA) which we think might be causing these behaviours.

Thanks to this grant Professors Sheer and Martinez-Barbera have been able to make models that have the same mutations as kid’s tumours and they are now testing the models to make sure they behave as expected.

Our achievements so far lay a strong foundation for developing new approaches to treatment for children with low-grade gliomas.

Professor JP Martinez-Barbera

How will my money help?

  • £25 could pay for 1,000 small test tubes
  • £350 could pay to produce an antibody to look at a specific mutation
  • £600 could pay for a kit with all the enzymes and solutions to get the antibody into the model

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Making pre-clinical models for paediatric Low Grade Glioma has been really challenging. Erica, from our research team, describes why, and how this project is working to build this valuable resource.