After a quieter week last week, we are absolutely bursting with content this week and it’s great to begin with this week’s round-up with news from our University of Plymouth Centre.
- Tumour suppressor genes are normal genes that slow down cell division, repair DNA mistakes, or tell cells when to die but when they don't work properly, cells can grow out of control, and this can lead to cancer. Merlin is a tumour suppressor protein that is frequently mutated (changed in form or nature) in meningioma which remains the most common form of adult primary brain tumour. The research team at our University of Plymouth Centre have identified cellular activity and pathways that are upregulated (the process of increasing the response to a stimulus) in Merlin-deficient tumours and which consequently contribute to tumour growth. This research proposes a new way of looking at treating Merlin-deficient meningioma. We are very pleased that the sustainable funding we have supported the work of Professor Hanemann with for over five years, and which we will continue to do so, has delivered another promising research paper – a clear example that our centre model is the way forward in the search for progress and improvements in patient options and outcomes. Our patron supermodel, actress, entrepreneur and mother Caprice Bourret commented on this research news “I am so pleased to hear these research updates from Plymouth – it is a centre I have visited and I was so impressed by the dedication of Professor Hanemann and his team. The sustainable funding, we have provided to Plymouth for over five years is clearly the way forward in our fight to improve the outlook for people diagnosed with all types of brain tumour, including Meningioma” Caprice became a part of the Brain Tumour Research family following her own meningioma diagnosis, and subsequent successful surgical intervention, in Spring 2017. You can find out more here.
- In other news from our research centres –a CRUK funded researcher has joined our Imperial team. For the first time, Cancer Research UK is awarding funding for clinicians to pause their medical studies and undertake a period of research - Jake Symington has secured such funding and has begun a three-year period working with Dr Nel Syed at our Imperial Research Centre. He joins the team examining the effect of Arginine Deprivation on Cell Metabolism and Tumour Microenvironment in Glioblastoma. Dr Syed told us that “without the seed funding from Brain Tumour Research and their member charity Brain Tumour Research Campaign (BTRC) then the opportunity to bring Jake into the team just wouldn’t have happened because the team would not exist.” Find out more about Dr Syed’s work on Arginine depletion here.
- Fascinating stuff about the crafty nature of glioblastoma Evidently Glioblastoma cells build unique structures called tumour microtubes that extend away from the cancer cells in different directions. When these ‘tentacles’ connect with other glioblastoma cells, they can act like a bridge that allows the direct transfer of cellular resources. This exchange supports the continued growth of cancer cells that otherwise may not survive. Radiation and chemotherapy are toxic to growing cells but glioblastoma cells that are bridged together by tumour microtubes can distribute the toxicity amongst a large network of cells. Sharing toxic stress lessens the burden on each individual cell and helps connected cancer cells to survive treatment. This research lab is investigating drugs that collapse and prevent these glioblastoma cell networks.
- A new radiation therapy technique has shown promise for improving treatment outcomes in patients with brain cancer. This new MRT (microbeam radiation therapy) technique treats tumours with very narrow wafer-like X-ray blades to deliver very high doses of synchrotron radiation delivered in a very short time. " Research shows that the treatment of tumour cells is much more effective when the radiation dose is delivered using MRT.
- Using samples of 50 glioblastomas with mass spectrometry-based proteomics this research team obtained the first large-scale glioblastoma protein data and then performed an analysis of drug response on the obtained protein data and genetic transcripts. The team was able to classify the IDH wild-type malignant glioblastoma into two GBM Proteomic Cluster (GPC) groups –GPC1 and GPC2-- with regards to different metabolism, immunomodulation, and tumour origin.
- The challenge with developing therapies for GBM is that the disease is highly immunosuppressive. It uses multiple mechanisms to evade recognition by the immune system, and many therapies developed against it are unsuccessful because GBM is both resistant to treatment and highly heterogeneous. However, treating GBM using a type of immune cell called the natural killer (NK) cell has enabled a team to genetically modify NK cells to more specifically target and kill cancer cells.
- Our Centre of Excellence at the University of Plymouth
- The Brain Tumour Research Centre at Imperial College London
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