DAXX - a new target for brain tumour drugs

Testing if a protein involved in controlling the activity of genes in childhood glioblastoma could be a potential drug target for new treatments.

Researchers led by Dr David Michod at UCL's Institute of Child Health are seeking to identify new drug targets for glioblastoma by investigating the role of a protein known as DAXX in tumour development.

Glioblastomas are a highly malignant and invasive brain tumour type, which have a very poor prognosis. New treatments that specifically target the tumour cells are urgently needed.

The team will investigate the role of DAXX, a protein found in each cell that controls the activity of another family of proteins known as histones. Histone proteins regulate the way DNA is packaged within a cell and send 'messages' that control which genes are switched on and off.

Mutations to a type of histone known as H3.3 have been found in glioblastoma cells. These mutations change the way histones control gene activity, which may be leading to tumour development.

The team will study the interaction between H3.3 and DAXX and find out whether preventing DAXX from activating histone H3.3 can stop key genes from being switched on that cause uncontrolled tumour growth.

Positive results may lead to the development of new drugs which target DAXX in tumour cells but do not damage healthy cells, reducing the harsh side effects that occur in current treatments.

Project information

Formal title: Role of the histone variant H3.3 and its chaperones DAXX and ATRX in paediatric glioblastoma

Key Researcher: Dr David Michod, Institute of Child Health, UCL

Tumour type: Paediatric Glioblastoma

Research type: Tumour biology

Timing: Granted in March 2013 for three years