Nanoparticles and cancer-killing viruses

6 min read

On Thursday 9th March, Brain Tumour Research Funding was debated in the main chamber of the House of Commons with the focus being on the recently launched report 'Pathway to a Cure - breaking down the barriers'. Chair of the APPG on Brain Tumours (for whom Brain Tumour Research provide the secretariat), Derek Thomas MP, demanded “a greater emphasis from the government to accelerate the efforts to find more effective methods to treat patients with brain tumours." Watch the whole impassioned and thought-provoking debate here, or read the transcript here.


Getting Drugs Across the Blood-Brain Barrier Using Nanoparticles. A research team at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) have made progress on a way to carry drugs across the blood-brain barrier using nanoparticles. The nanoparticles – which are tiny objects with a diameter one-thousandth of a human hair – target a protein on blood vessels called P-selectin and trigger a process called transcytosis, shuttling particles across the cells lining the blood vessel wall. The researchers then test the process with nanoparticles loaded with vismodegib in medulloblastoma mouse models. The work is published in Nature Materials.

New research pinpoints key culprit behind brain cancer metastasis in children. In a paper, published in Nature Cell Biology, physician-scientists from the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh discovered that medulloblastomas hijack a skill that normal brain cells use during their early development and then manipulate it to help tumours spread. Their findings shed light on the mechanisms associated with tumour metastasis and highlight potential targeted therapies for medulloblastoma.


FDA Grants Orphan Drug Designation to Temferon for Treatment of Glioblastoma Multiforme Temferon is a cell therapy designed to reprogramme the tumour microenvironment by delivering immunomodulatory molecules directly to tumours. Temferon is being assessed in an ongoing Phase 1/2a clinical trial in newly diagnosed patients with GBM who have an unmethylated MGMT gene promoter, which Temferon targets. The new Orphan Drug Designation will allow further development of the drug.

Targeting glioblastoma with a cancer-killing virus City of Hope researchers are launching a Phase 1 clinical trial to assess a new combination treatment against glioblastoma.  They are packaging an oncolytic virus (a virus that can kill cancer cells without harming normal brain tissue) within tumour-homing neural stem cells, to evade the body’s own immune system. The science behind the treatment is explained here.


The Independent Review of UK’s Research, Development and Innovation Organisational Landscape, led by Sir Paul Nurse, was published this week. It contains 29 recommendations which outline how science can improve UK productivity, growth, and competitiveness. The review also shines a light on the difficulties facing clinical research in the NHS.

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