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Glioblastoma research

A glioblastoma, also known as a GBM, is the fastest growing form of the glioma brain tumour and is extremely difficult to treat, with just 3.3% of patients surviving beyond two years.

A glioblastoma is a high grade (grade 4) glioma, meaning that it is highly aggressive and can spread to other areas of the brain. We are determined to understand how and why this tumour type forms and develop new, effective treatments.

Current Glioblastoma research projects

Here are the research projects we are currently funding that relate to understanding or treating glioblastoma

Dr Tyler Miller

Understanding how immune cells block glioblastoma treatments

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Dr Tyler Miller

Understanding how immune cells block glioblastoma treatments

In this exciting project, Dr Miller and his team will focus on immunosuppressive cells found in glioblastomas, which are currently believed to be preventing breakthrough immunotherapies from attacking brain tumours.

Dr Veronica Rendo

Making MDM2 resistance a thing of the past.

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Dr Veronica Rendo

Making MDM2 resistance a thing of the past

Dr Rendo is striving to understand how laboratory models of glioblastoma (GBM) become resistant to MDM2 inhibitors and to use this understanding to propose combinations of drugs to overcome or prevent the occurrence of resistance.

Dr Spencer Watson

Targeting treatment damage to stop recurrence

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Dr Spencer Watson

Targeting treatment damage to stop recurrence

Dr Watson’s work will explore whether glial scars, formed in response to injury such as radiotherapy or surgery, provide a microenvironment that tumour cells can use as a safe space to relapse from.

Dr Pim French

Blocking hypersensitive glioblastoma growth

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Dr Pim French

Blocking hypersensitive glioblastoma growth

In this project Dr Pim French and his team are learning new ways to stop the activation of a protein called epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). When EGFR is mutated in tumours it can be activated too easily, making glioblastomas grow quickly. By blocking this type of EGFR Dr French wants to slow, or even completely stop, tumour growth.

Professor Sebastian Brandner

Nanoparticle couriers for GBM treatments

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Professor Sebastian Brandner

Nanoparticle couriers for GBM treatments

When it comes to glioblastoma (GBM) treatments, there two key challenges: effective treatments and how to deliver them across the blood brain barrier. This grant has a fresh approach to both. Professor Brandner’s team are testing whether microRNAs can stop tumour growth when delivered by nanoparticles.

Mr Ola Rominiyi

3D models to understand invading GBM cells

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Mr Ola Rominiyi

3D models to understand invading GBM cells

This innovative research project will develop a new 3D model of glioblastoma (GBM) for lab assessments. The researchers, based in Sheffield, will also use the model to prioritise some of the best potential drugs to enhance current therapies.

Professor Neil Carragher

Targeting, treating and defeating glioblastoma

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Professor Neil Carragher

Targeting, treating and defeating glioblastoma

Professor Carragher will adopt a systematic approach to find new drug targets and new drug combinations to treat glioblastomas. In addition to discovering new combinations of drugs, they’ll continue their work by testing drug combinations already discovered by their team.

This grant will allow researchers to suggest new combinations of therapies which have the greatest chance of being effective and well-tolerated in people. We hope that these new therapy combinations will signify a real step-change in the lives of people with a glioblastoma, improving quality of life and length of survival.

Prof. Thomas Wurdinger

Investigating combined drug treatments

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Professor Thomas Wurdinger

Investigating combined drug treatments

This collaboration, being led from Amsterdam, will also involve UK researchers from the University of Cambridge, the Sanger Institute and IOTA Pharmaceuticals. They will be looking at existing drugs in different combinations. They have sophisticated software that will analyse already-licensed drugs to see which ones could work together to treat Glioblastoma (GBM).

Dr Gregor Hutter

Manipulating the tumour's environment

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Dr Gregor Hutter

Manipulating the tumour's environment

The environment in which a tumour exists contains several different types of cells. Some of these cell types support tumour growth and promote its spread to other parts of the brain. Microglia are one of the cell types that play an important role in supporting tumour growth. However, researchers have shown that it's possible to manipulate and reprogramme microglia to have an anti-cancer function.

The aim of Dr Hutter's research is to use a combination of drugs to reprogramme microglia to kill glioblastoma cells.

Dr Lucy Stead

Using nanobiopsy to characterise tumour cells

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Dr Lucy Stead

Using nanobiopsy to characterise tumour cells

Glioblastomas are the most common, and one of the most aggressive types of brain cancer found in adults.

Standard treatments always result in tumour regrowth. What we don't know is whether glioblastoma cells are naturally resistant to treatment or whether treatments cause changes within the cells that make them resistant.

This project is using advanced technology called nanobiopsy to extract tiny samples from living cells without killing them.

Dr Steve Pollard

Linking glioblastomas to DNA-protein parcels

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Dr Steve Pollard

Linking glioblastomas to DNA-protein parcels

Dr Pollard and his group are exploiting the latest genome editing technologies that have opened up new opportunities for understanding the biology of glioblastomas (GBM).

Dr Adam Waldman

Predicting patient survival - a new method of MRI

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Dr Adam Waldman

Predicting patient survival - a new method of MRI

Researchers at Imperial College London have developed a new MRI scanning technique that will accurately measure how a tumour is responding to therapy.

The team, led by Dr Adam Waldman, have developed a technique called Diffusion Weighted Imaging (DWI) which measures the properties of water in both the tumour and surrounding brain to detect changes in growth. These changes can be identified at an earlier stage using DWI in comparison with standard MRI.

This technique will now be trialled in newly diagnosed glioblastoma patients across five different brain tumour research centres to confirm whether DWI is a more reliable method than standard MRI.

Dr Sebastien Serres

Does STAT3 help form a barrier around GBM?

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Dr Sebastien Serres

Does STAT3 help form a barrier around GBM?

Glioblastomas are highly aggressive tumours for which effective treatment options are lacking, highlighting the urgent need for new therapeutic strategies. Like many other cancers, brain tumours are heavily influenced by their surroundings.

It is therefore important to understand how the tumour cells interact with the healthy brain and respond under certain conditions such as hypoxia (a lack of oxygen in the tissue), as this is likely to reveal new ways to target them.

Dr Vincenzo D'Angiolella

Targeting glioblastoma cell metabolism

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Dr Vincenzo D'Angiolella

Targeting glioblastoma cell metabolism

Despite aggressive treatment for glioblastomas, tumour recurrence is inevitable, highlighting the urgent need to understand why these treatments are failing.

This research project will help improve our knowledge the differences between healthy brain tissue and tumour cells. It will help us better understand the underlying mechanisms driving aggressive glioblastomas, and identify ways in which we can disrupt these interactions with drugs to slow tumour growth.

Professor. Roel Verhaak

Tracking and Targeting Glioblastoma

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Professor Roel Verhaak

Tracking and Targeting Glioblastoma

Professor Verhaak aims to understand how extra chromosomal DNA or ecDNA is created and maintained in cancer cells, and will then go on to develop strategies to treat glioblastomas by targeting ecDNA.

Professor Simona Parinello

Mapping glioblastoma cells

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Professor Simona Parinello

Mapping glioblastoma cells

Professor Parrinello, and her colleagues at Imperial College London, aim to understand how glioblastomas spread into the brain and how they use small molecules as messengers to communicate with surrounding cells.

Dr Stuart Smith

Targeting Glioblastoma drug resistance through RNA methylation

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Dr Stuart Smith

Targeting Glioblastoma drug resistance through RNA methylation

Researchers, led by Dr Stuart Smith in Nottingham, will investigate the levels of RNA methylation in GMB cells and compare them to levels in low grade tumours. They will then test the theory that RNA methylation is responsible for some GBM tumours becoming resistant to current treatments.

Current high grade brain tumour research projects

Here are the research projects we are currently funding that relate to understanding or treating high grade brain tumours, including glioblastoma

Prof. Colin Watts

Tessa Jowell BRAIN MATRIX

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Professor Colin Watts

Tessa Jowell BRAIN MATRIX

The Tessa Jowell BRAIN-MATRIX is a first-of-its-kind study that will enable doctors to treat brain tumours with drugs that are more targeted than ever before. We are excited to be investing £2.8 million to set the study up, and to drive it into the future.

Although the trial is being led from the UK, we expect it to deliver global impact for brain cancer patients.

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Dr Jan Schuemann

Extreme dose rate proton therapy

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Dr Jan Schuemann

Extreme dose rate proton therapy

Previous studies have shown that delivering radiotherapy extremely rapidly can dramatically reduce side-effects. Radiation therapy that delivers the same dose of radiation in a much shorter period of time is called extreme dose radiation (EDR). EDR therapy has not been tested using proton beams, and that’s where this innovative research project comes in.

The research team, led by Dr Schuemann, will use pre-clinical models to test EDR proton therapy with the aim of establishing a treatment regimen that’s effective and well-tolerated by people. They’ll compare EDR to conventional radiation delivery and look for any differences in side-effects, specifically looking into the effects on cognition and motor control.

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