Professor Susan Short and her team and the University of Leeds are developing novel treatments for high grade glioma.
Gliomas are formed from glial cells, a type of cell found within the brain that supports and protects the nerve cells. Gliomas are the most common type of brain tumour and can be classified as high grade or low grade.
Gliomas are graded from one to four by the World Health Organisation according to the speed at which they grow and how likely they are to spread to other parts of the brain. High grade gliomas, which are graded three and four, are aggressive and grow quickly and can include ependymomas, astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas. Find out more about how brain tumours are graded.
Getting ideas from basic research into clinical trials is a vital step towards a cure. Professor Salomoni's research at University College London has shown that arsenic trioxide, an old chemotherapy drug, breaks down a protein called PML which contributes to the formation of gliomas. The next step is to find out whether this drug is suitable for use in brain tumour patients.
Professor Salomoni's work has also led to a clinical trial into the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), which is thought to increase the efficacy of radiotherapy in patients over the age of 70. This trial, which is being carried out by Professor Susan Short at the University of Leeds, has progressed from the laboratory bench to clinical trials remarkably quickly.
Professor Paolo Salomoni, from UCL, is investigating the generation of energy in glioma cells and how normal cells are transformed to tumour cells. The team will be studying an enzyme called IDH1, which has a role in the generation of energy within cell and is commonly found in glioma. IDH1 has also been linked to structures called histones which control which genes are switched on and off. It is hoped that this research will lead to the discovery of new drug targets and treatment options for glioma patients.
Developing drugs to treat brain tumours can be difficult due to the blood-brain barrier, which separates the brain from the bloodstream and prevents many drugs from entering the brain. Researchers at the University of Leeds, led by Professor Susan Short, are studying novel ways to deliver drugs to the brain. The team are investigating whether harmless viruses can pass through the blood-brain barrier and destroy tumour cells without harming surrounding tissue. Small-scale studies have so far been successful.