A glioblastoma, also known as a GBM, is the fastest growing form of the glioma brain tumour and is extremely difficult to treat, with just 3.3% of patients surviving beyond two years.

A glioblastoma is a high grade (grade 4) glioma, meaning that it is highly aggressive and can spread to other areas of the brain. We are determined to understand how and why this tumour type forms and develop new, effective treatments. Find out more about glioblastoma in our fact sheet.

Our discoveries in glioblastoma

Choosing the right treatments

Our research led by Professor Sebastian Brandner and his team from University College London Hospitals has led to the development of molecular tests that detect a chemical change in the DNA that shows how sensitive the cells are to certain chemotherapy drugs. This test, becoming routine across the country, means that doctors can choose the right chemotherapy drugs and dose more accurately.

Discovery of 11 key genes in glioblastoma

Professor Paolo Salomoni and his team at the UCL Institute for Child Health have discovered 11 genes implicated in childhood glioblastoma. This has resulted in the identification of two subgroups of patients with specific genetic abnormalities who may benefit from treatments already available in the clinic.

Our current research into glioblastomas

Understanding how glioblastomas grow

A group in Cambridge led by Dr Colin Watts is using fluorescent dye to light up glioblastomas in surgery. They are investigating if the different parts of the tumour grow in different ways and what effect that has on how the tumour responds to treatment. The dye helps them to take tissue samples from different areas of the tumour.

Key pathway to shed light on invasive properties of glioblastoma

Dr Anthony Chalmers is looking at how glioblastomas invade surrounding brain tissue. They are looking at one biochemical pathway in particular, the Rho pathway, to see if it has a key role in changing the shape and mobility of the tumour cells. They have created a new model of the tumour in mice so that researchers can test their treatments on a more accurate replica of human disease. They will then use this model to find out if the Rho pathway is involved in the development of glioblastoma and try to develop drugs which block this pathway.

Targeting energy production in glioblastoma

Another approach to defeating glioblastoma is to stop the energy-generating processes that tumour cells use to grow. A research group at Birmingham University, led by Dr Daniel Tennant, is looking at how a tumour cell creates its energy differently from a healthy cell and, if so, whether the mitochondria which produce that energy would make it a good drug target.

DAXX - a new drug target?

Dr David Michod is studying a protein called DAXX, which may be linked to tumour development. DAXX is thought to interact with proteins known as histones which control which genes are switched on and off in a cell. In time, it may be possible to develop drugs which target DAXX to prevent tumour growth.

New MRI techniques to predict response to therapy

A new method of MRI scanning has been developed by Dr Adam Waldman at Imperial College that allows doctors to accurately measure how well a tumour is responding to treatment and thus predict the likely outcome of the patient.

Boosting immunity to cure glioblastoma

Dr Jason Adhikaree from the University of Nottingham is developing an exciting new vaccination that will encourage white blood cells within the immune system to track down and destroy tumour cells.