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Using robots to help find treatments for glioblastoma

Recently, we were given the exciting opportunity to visit a research laboratory at Oxford University, headed by Professor Daniel Ebner, where they are using state-of-the-art robots to help in the fight against glioblastoma.

The project

The research, funded through a collaborative effort between The Brain Tumour Charity and Cancer Research UK, involves using robots to test hundreds of drug compounds on glioblastoma cells that have been grown from real patient tumours. They are also looking at the genetic makeup of these cancer cells. This will help find out how tumour cells survive and regrow after treatment. Using this information, they hope to find new targets that could be used to develop new treatments for this devastating disease.

The researchers

Professor Daniel Ebner heads several screening facilities at the Target Discovery Institute, University of Oxford. Prior to his post at Oxford, Daniel worked in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries for more than a decade. His lab group is a mixture of researchers and students, bringing together a diverse range of ages, experience and backgrounds.

The robots

Upon entering the lab, we were greeted by Daniel’s team of dedicated researchers and students. The room was filled with a lot of very impressive-looking, high-tech equipment. However, the liquid-handling robots were what immediately caught our attention.

These robots are designed to handle tiny volumes of liquid with extreme precision, allowing researchers to test thousands of different compounds quickly and accurately. They can also see whether combining different drugs is more effective.

Additionally, the use of robots means there is less chance of human error, making results more reliable.

This efficiency is really important for speeding up the discovery of new potential treatments. Being able to test more compounds, more quickly, increases the chances of getting a hit.

The most intelligent, most driven, the most talented scientists are working on this pathology, and we are making progress

Professor Daniel Ebner

Working in the Research Team, I read about the amazing work we fund to accelerate a cure for brain tumours every day. It was really inspiring to be able to visit the lab, and hear the researchers talk first-hand about their work with such passion and dedication.

Their commitment was a powerful reminder that our mission here at The Charity can really make a difference to the lives of those affected by a brain tumour diagnosis.

Find out more about the research

This project is in collaboration with researchers at the University of Edinburgh and MIT. Working with Daniel on this project is Professor Neil Carragher. Together they focus on finding new drugs to treat glioblastoma.

Professor Neil Carragher is on a quest to find new treatments for glioblastoma

Professor Neil Carragher