Quest for Cures - Collaborative Teams Awards

These programmes bring together global teams from different disciplines to target the research from different approaches, speed up discoveries and bringing benefits to people with a brain tumour faster.

Investigating combined drug treatments

This collaboration, being led from Amsterdam, will also involve researchers from the University of Cambridge, the Sanger Institute and IOTA Pharmaceuticals. They will be looking at existing drugs in a new way... together. They have sophisticated software that will analyse already-licences drugs to see which ones could work together to treat Glioblastoma (GBM).

Researchers will have define combinations of 2 or 3 drugs that they predict will work well in combination, they will then use complex lab-based models to test them. Crucially, the team have access to brain tumour samples, from consenting patients, that they can test these drugs on.

Additionally, if any of the models show resistance to the drug combinations the researchers will look for specific traits in the cell that are causing this resistance. They will use a technique called CRISPR to delete these molecular traits and assess if this makes the cells more vulnerable to treatment.

One of the exciting things about this programme of work is that the researchers are using drugs that have already passed a lot of the tests that are needed before they can go into the clinic. This means that when drug combinations with great promise are identified they can be moved into clinical testing quickly.

Targeting clinically challenging meningiomas

This programme of work will be lead by Dr Gelareh Zadeh in Toronto, Canada and will feature work with other colleagues from the UK (University of Cambridge; University of Liverpool), the USA (Case Western Reserve University, Ohio) and Brazil (Henry Ford Hospital; University of Sao Paulo). Dr Zadeh and the team are investigating what make clinically aggressive meningiomas (CAMs) and radiation induced meningiomas (RIMs) different, and hard to treat.

Meningiomas are often a slower growing form of primary brain tumour. However, there are certain groups of them which are more aggressive and don't respond well to either surgery or radiotherapy. Dr Zadeh's research will be assessing the epigenetics (the signals in cells that tell it how to use the DNA code) of tumours collected from consenting participants. This epigenetics analysis will help unravel what is driving these faster growing or recurrent tumours so they can be targeted by new therapies.

With their close links to the clinic the researchers will be able to link this scientific data to clinical data. This will mean they are able to see the effect of these tumour-driving molecules on the whole person and their quality of life, not just the tumour itself.

Dr Zadeh and her co-applicant Dr Ken Aldape are the founding members of the International Meningioma Consortium, which will be key to growing research into these treatment resistant meningiomas. The consortium provides the researchers we fund with a perfect platform for sharing their ideas and results quickly within this committed community.