Quest for Cures - Collaborative Teams Awards

This scheme has been established to acknowledge the growing importance of international and interdisciplinary team approaches to discoveries and bringing benefits to people with a brain tumour faster.

New drug development for medulloblastoma

Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumour in children and causes 10% of cancer deaths. Large studies of tumour-tissue have identified four subgroups of medulloblastoma in patients, but only children with the two least aggressive subgroups have new treatment options. For those children with aggressive, “Group 3" tumours, survival is dismal and treatment is devastating.

Professor Chesler is working with a team from Germany and the USA to study Group 3 medulloblastoma. The team will be analysing the genome in medulloblastoma tumour cells while also working on new ways to test drugs for this tumour type.

If successful, the research could, for the first time, reveal how these tumours are wired. This could mean that new drugs to treat this tumour type are delivered to the clinic within five years.

Linking glioblastomas to DNA-protein parcels

Dr Steve Pollard is working with scientists from Canada and Denmark to look at chromatin proteins, to see how they could be linked to causing glioblastomas. These chromatin proteins are what help the extremely long strands of DNA to be wrapped up neatly into chromosomes. They will be using the very latest scientific editing tools to further their understanding of the interactions and defects in the proteins. Examples of the skills brought to this project by the applicants are: making glioblastoma stem cells; performing genome editing; experience with chromatin biology/biochemistry; models for drug development and drug screening.

There are around 1000 of these chromatin proteins and little is currently understood about how they regulate genes (turning them on or off) and which ones should be prioritised for drug development. Better understanding of exactly what happens when different chromatin proteins are defective will allow a more targeted drug discovery process. The team will also build on this work by trying to identify existing drugs that could be used to stop defective cells developing into cancer.