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Boosting the immune system to beat brain tumours

Fast facts

  • Official title: Enhanced Dendritic Cell Immunology for Glioblastoma
  • Lead researcher: Dr Jason Adhikaree
  • Where: University of Nottingham
  • When: January 2015 – December 2017
  • Cost: £114,494. Co-funded with Medical Research Council (MRC)
  • Research type: Adult, Glioblastoma (High Grade), Clinical Research Training Fellowship, Academic

Developing a personalised vaccine created in the laboratory from a patient’s own immune system that will recognise and destroy glioblastoma cells.

Dr Jason Adhikaree, at the University of Nottingham, is developing a vaccine that will recognise and destroy glioblastoma cells.

This tumour type is highly aggressive and difficult to treat as the cancerous cells can spread throughout the brain. New treatments which specifically target the glioblastoma cells, whilst sparing the surrounding tissue, are urgently needed.

Dr Adhikaree will use dendritic cells, a type of white blood cell that forms part of the body’s immune defence system, to create a vaccine. Dendritic cells will be taken from glioblastoma patients and ‘taught’ to recognise cells from the patient’s own tumour.

The dendritic cells will then be injected back into the patient’s bloodstream and travel to the brain where they will recognise and kill the tumour cells.

The study also aims to use different drugs to boost the activity of dendritic cells, enhancing their response to tumour cells.

If successful, Dr Adhikaree’s work will provide an invaluable new means of treating glioblastoma. Using the patient’s own immune defence system will also mean that only tumour cells are targeted, preventing harmful side-effects and damage to healthy cells.

Glioblastomas are fast-growing and highly malignant tumours. Only 3.3% of patients survive beyond two years, so positive results from Dr Adhikaree’s work will have a great impact on those affected.

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