Dr Vincenzo D'Angiolella
Junior Group Leader,
Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology
Glioblastomas are the most common, and one of the most aggressive types of brain cancer found in adults. The current standard treatment involves surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible, followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Despite aggressive treatment, tumour recurrence is inevitable, highlighting the urgent need to understand why these treatments are failing.
Tumour suppressor genes function to slow down cell division, repair DNA, and tell cells when to die. The loss of tumour suppressor genes results in uncontrolled growth that is characteristic of glioblastomas. The loss of tumour suppressor genes occurs in all cancers, as they lose large pieces of DNA . Along with losing tumour suppressor genes, a subset of aggressive glioblastomas have also lost a gene, called MTAP, that is needed for cell metabolism. In the absence of MTAP, tumour cells have to rely on alternative methods to survive. The aim of Dr D'Angiolella's research is to test several drugs that could have the ability to block this alternative metabolic pathway. By using drugs that block only the alternative pathway, they are able to target only cancer cells (that lack MTAP) and leave the normal cells intact.
This research project will help improve our knowledge the differences between healthy brain tissue and tumour cells. It will help us better understand the underlying mechanisms driving aggressive glioblastomas, and identify ways in which we can disrupt these interactions with drugs to slow tumour growth.