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Targeting clinically challenging meningiomas

Fast facts

  • Official title: Deciphering the genetic and epigenetic landscape of clinically aggressive meningiomas
  • Lead researcher: Dr Gelareh Zadeh
  • Where: University Health Network, Toronto, Canada
  • When: October 2017 – September 2022
  • Cost: £1.5 million over five years
  • Research type: Adult, Meningioma (High Grade), Clinical/ Academic
  • Grant round: Quest for cures

What is it? 

Identifying changes in DNA 

Dr Zadeh aims to identify key molecules within a cell that start, as well as maintain, the growth of high grade meningiomas.

The team will analyse tumour samples from 500 patients around the world to identify changes in DNA. They’ll also analyse how changes to the the way DNA is folded influences the way the DNA ‘code’ is used. This analysis will help to identify and target the changes associated with fuelling the aggressive nature of high grade meningiomas.

Connecting genetic changes to clinical behaviour

In addition to tumour samples, the researchers will also collect information on a person’s quality of life, including persistent symptoms such as fatigue. This information will be used to establish a clinical registry of symptoms, which will be correlated to the impact of the tumour to everyday life. This will help capture both genetic and quality of life information and help propel progress for those affected.

Why is it important? 

Almost a quarter of all primary brain tumours in adults are meningiomas. As many as 90% are considered low grade, but a small subset are high grade. These are referred to as ‘clinically aggressive meningiomas’, or ‘CAMs’. Beyond surgery and radiation therapy, treatment options for CAMs are limited, making it essential to understand the biology of these high grade meningiomas so we can pick up the pace towards a cure for those affected.

Who will it help? 

This research will help identify changes associated with CAMs to help improve diagnosis and identify drug targets to treat this tumour type. This project will also help halve the harm caused by brain tumours by gathering information on a person’s quality of life.

This research hopes to drive change for people with clinically aggressive meningiomas, for whom treatment options are currently limited.



  • The researchers have collected 490 tumour samples from people with CAMs and are in the process of analysing the changes to DNA and its structure
  • They have already sequenced the protein-coding regions of DNA in 450 meningioma samples
  • This information allowed the researchers to identify important mutations that make the tumour more aggressive
  • The team has also determined the DNA methylation profiles of 140 meningiomas and used this data to build a tool that can predict the risk of tumour regrowth after surgery
  • The results of their studies were published in several peer-reviewed journals
  • They’ve also presented their research at various neurosurgical and neuro-oncology conferences


  • Dr Zadeh and her team will continue analysing the tumour samples and will validate their findings before translating their work to pre-clinical models.
  • The team continues to collect information about the symptoms experienced by people with meningioma.

Research is just one other way your regular gift can make a difference

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.

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But, by setting up a regular gift – as little as £2 per month – you can ensure that families no longer face this destructive disease.

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Researcher bio

Dr Zadeh is the head of the Division of Surgical Oncology within the Department of Surgery, University Health Network, Toronto, Canada. She also holds a scientific post a the Adult Brain Tumour Centre, University of Toronto, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Ontario Cancer Institute as well as a post at Toronto Western Hospital.