The environment around a tumour has several different types of cells, including microglia. Microglia is a cell type that supports tumour growth and promotes its spread to other parts of the brain. Researchers have shown that it’s possible to manipulate and reprogramme microglia to have an anti-cancer function.
The aim of Professor Hutter’s research is to use a combination of drugs to reprogramme microglia to kill glioblastoma cells. The research team will use a device called a bioreactor to store and grow a tumour sample and observe the interactions between tumour cells and microglia.
They’ll then use a combination of drugs to manipulate and reprogramme the microglia to be able to target the tumour cells. The researchers will use specialised laboratory techniques to evaluate if this method of targeting glioblastoma cells is successful.
Glioblastomas are the most common and aggressive type of high grade brain tumour in adults. The current standard of treatment involves surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible, followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Despite aggressive treatments, overall survival is about 15-17 months from diagnosis, making it vital to adopt new approaches to treat this tumour type.
This research project aims to help people diagnosed with glioblastoma by improving our understanding of the role of the tumour’s environment. It will provide a foundation for the development of potential new treatments to encourage the healthy brain to attack the tumour.
The research project started recently, in January 2019. The team have started collecting samples from different parts of the tumour to start their analysis. They’ve also started setting up the bioreactor to be able to store and grow the tumour samples.
Research is the only way we will discover kinder, more effective treatments and, ultimately, stamp out brain tumours – for good! However, brain tumours are complex and research in to them takes a great deal of time and money.
Across the UK, over 100,000 families are facing the overwhelming diagnosis of a brain tumour and it is only through the generosity of people like you can we continue to help them.
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