Official title: Combining the Akt inhibitor MK-2206 with radiation to improve outcomes for patients with glioblastoma
Lead: January 2018 – June 20192
Cost: This £49,000 grant is co-funded with Cancer Research UK for 18 months
Research type: Adult, Glioblastoma (High Grade), Pre-clinical trial
Award type: Pre-clinical trial, Co-funding with Cancer Research UK
When radiotherapy is used to treat cancers it aims to damage DNA in the tumour cells so badly that the cells die. One theory of why glioblastomas are resistant to our current treatments is that the tumour cells can repair the damage to DNA faster than the ‘therapy’ can kill them.
A protein called Akt within the tumour cells is responsible for the increased DNA repair. Blocking Akt activity using a drug called MK-2206 makes tumour cells more vulnerable to radiation.
Professor Chalmers and his team will test MK-2206 with radiation therapy, with chemotherapy (temozolomide, TMZ), or radiation therapy plus TMZ. Response to these three treatment combinations will be measured in glioblastoma tumour cells, as well as tumour models.
Glioblastoma is the most common malignant primary tumour occurring in adults and affects 2,200 individuals in England, annually. Glioblastomas have extremely poor survival rates, with only 5% of patients surviving 5 years beyond diagnosis. The dismal prognosis is because of the tumour’s resistance to treatments. That’s why it’s so important to research new ways to treat glioblastomas.
This study has the potential for real impact to people diagnosed with a glioblastoma in the near future. If the outcome of this pre-clinical trial are positive, the researchers will move straight into designing a clinical trial for people newly diagnosed with a glioblastoma using this Akt inhibitor drug. WE hope this will mean that radiotherapy is more effective and that survival will be increased.
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Professor Chalmers is Chair of Clinical Oncology at the University of Glasgow. His main research interest is in improving outcomes for patients with glioblastoma by combining radiotherapy with targeted drug therapy.