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‘Shining light’ on childhood brain tumours to reveal new therapy targets

Fast facts

Official title: ‘Shining Light’ on DNA mutations in childhood brain tumours to reveal new therapy targets.
Lead researcher: Dr Ruman Rahman
Where: University of Nottingham
When: November 2017- February 2019
Cost: £81,359 over three years
Research type: Paediatric, Ependymoma (High Grade), Academic

Identifying unique alterations in the genetic make-up of ependymoma is beginning to provide clues for new targeted treatments. One such key alteration is a mutation called C11orf95-RELA, which is formed as two genes fuses together.

Dr Rahman at The University of Nottingham will use a powerful gene editing tool to allow his team to control the genetic pathways involved in the fusion of C11orf95-RELA. Ground-breaking technology known as dCas9 CRISPR LITE can be used in the laboratory to switch genes on or off by shining a blue light on them. This technique will be applied to ependymoma cells to enable the scientists to understand how specific genes involved with the fusion are activated and whether these genes can be targeted by drugs.

This will be the first application of light-induced gene manipulation of a known cancer mutation in the field of neuro-oncology research.

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