Shutting down the energy generators in brain tumours

Beating glioblastoma resistance to treatment by targeting abnormal mitochondria, the tumour's energy generators.

Dr Daniel Tennant and his team at the University of Birmingham aim to enhance patient survival through research into the causes of therapy resistance in glioblastomas.

Over time, gliomas may progress from slow growing, low-grade tumours to an aggressive, high grade form which is more difficult to treat and often resistant to therapy. Understanding how this change in tumour aggression and resistance occurs is essential if we are to develop new drugs and improve outcomes.

The researchers are investigating whether changes in the function of mitochondria, compartments within a cell that produce energy, are linked to tumour resistance. This will build on existing work that has found differences in the way mitochondria produce energy between healthy brain cells and tumour cells.

The team will analyse the way mitochondria generate energy in tumour cells and identify any mechanisms which enable the tumour to become more aggressive. These differences may enable the mitochondria to promote tumour growth in conditions where healthy cells would not survive, such as low oxygen levels.

This research may lead to new drugs being developed that target the mechanisms in the mitochondria which allow glioma cells to become resistant. It is hoped that new drugs can target low grade tumours before they become more aggressive high grade tumours.


Formal title: Changes in mitochondrial function in glioma and the role of mitochondrial metabolism in therapy resistance

Key Researcher: Dr. Daniel Tennant, University of Birmingham

Tumour type: Glioma (adult and paediatric)

Research type: Tumour biology

Timing: Granted in March 2013 for three years