Zebrafish avatars, insomnia, and gene therapy

5 min read

Brain Tumour Research:  

We are pleased to inform you that Pre-Applications for the next Brain Tumour Research Novel Therapeutics Accelerator (BTR-NTA) review cycle are now open. The next review meeting will be held 10-12th May 2024 in Lisbon, Portugal.  

The Brain Tumour Research Novel Therapeutics Accelerator (BTR-NTA) is an international accelerator programme that provides independent and holistic guidance to help position your therapeutic or technology along a realistic pathway to clinical trials. The BTR-NTA welcomes applications from academic and industry researchers developing any type of therapeutic (including delivery platforms and devices) for patients with a brain tumour. As part of the BTR-NTA review, your group will receive up to 240 hours of expert input from an international, multidisciplinary committee. The BTR-NTA programme is free for academic researchers.  

The Introductory Slide Deck, Applicant Guide and Pre-Application Form can be found on the BTR-NTA website. Pre-applications for this review cycle will close on Friday 12th January 2024.  

If you have any questions about the BTR-NTA programme, please do not hesitate to contact the BTR-NTA Programme Manager, Dr Charlotte Aitken (charlotte.aitken@tessajowellbcm.org) 


Zebrafish avatars can help tailor glioblastoma therapies. Scientists have created a new platform that can screen new treatments for glioblastoma and, with some refinement, check whether a particular patient will respond to a therapy. The platform, published in EMBO Molecular Medicine, involves injecting patient glioblastoma stem cells into zebrafish embryos, creating xenograft models – acting as an avatar for each specific patient. In the future, researchers could investigate whether the tumour cells from particular patients grafted into zebrafish respond when treated with various drugs to find the ones that lead to tumour regression. 

Telehealth group Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) in primary brain tumour: Primary outcomes from a single-arm Phase 2 feasibility and proof-of-concept trial. This study evaluated Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) in patients with primary brain tumours (PwPBT).  It aimed to be the first to evaluate feasibility, safety, and acceptability of implementing telehealth group CBT-I as well as assessing preliminary changes in subjective sleep metrics in PwPBT from baseline to follow-up. All participants endorsed moderate-to-strong treatment adherence and 97% reported improved sleep. Preliminary pre-post intervention effects demonstrated improvements in subjective insomnia severity, sleep quality, and fatigue with large effect sizes. These effects were maintained at follow-up. The results provide support for future randomised controlled pilot trials. 

Shooting the messenger: a systematic review investigating extracellular vesicle isolation and characterisation methods and their influence on understanding extracellular vesicles-radiotherapy interactions in glioblastoma. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) hold promise for improving our understanding of radiotherapy response in glioblastoma due to their role in intercellular communication within the tumour microenvironment (TME). However, methodologies to study EVs are evolving with significant variation within the EV research community. This study, published in BMC Cancer, systematically reviewed the literature and identified frequent gaps in verification from published studies resulting in a significant risk of bias. The authors encourage increased collaboration between less experienced and more experienced EV research groups to ensure the robustness of their research findings. 

Review Article: 

Innovative gene therapy approaches for brain tumour-related epilepsy.  Professor Mark Cunningham and Dr Kate Connor from Trinity College Dublin discuss the burden of brain tumour-related epilepsy and why novel therapies are urgently needed to improve the quality of life for those affected. 


CRUK is launching a new pilot funding scheme to support data-enabled approaches to research in children and young people’s (CYP) cancers.  You can apply for up to £250,000 through a Data for Children’s and Young People’s Cancer (D4CYP) Pilot Award. Funding lasts up to 24 months. It supports data-driven research questions to develop new, scalable and generalisable solutions to common challenges in children’s and young people's cancers. 

CRUK want the scheme to attract a wide range of multi-disciplinary applicants. Final submission deadline is 5th of December 2023. 

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