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National brain tumour research funding needs to increase to £30-35 million a year

Bristol models and building tumours in a dish

Bristol-led research, published in the journal The Royal Society Interface, involves the development of mathematical models to assess the current use of biomarkers in the detection of glioblastoma and how such biomarker-based strategies can be improved. In this study mathematical models were developed and paired with experimental data. The researchers found that for the prospective glioblastoma biomarker, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), lowering the current biomarker threshold could lead to earlier detection of glioblastoma. The team also used computational modelling to explore the impact of tumour characteristics and patient differences on detection and strategies for improvements.

Scientists have developed a novel 3D tissue-engineered model of the glioblastoma tumour microenvironment that can be used to learn why the tumours return and what treatments will be most effective at eradicating them – right down to a patient-specific level. The model and its development are described in Nature Partner Journals Precision Oncology. The model is an important step to identify new markers and therapies for the cancer. Research using the new model has already identified a new measure for understanding a patient’s tumour, including the capability of the cancer cells to renew and differentiate themselves, which is an indicator of how the cancer will respond to drug treatments. “Our goal is ultimately to develop a personalised medicine approach in which we can take a patient's tumour, build a model of that tumour in a dish, test drugs on it, and tell a clinician which therapy will work best to treat it,” said the paper’s corresponding author.

If you are a cancer researcher, you could receive feedback on your research ideas by applying to attend NCRI's proposal guidance meetings in November 2022. They are inviting proposal submissions in a number of areas including brain and the aim of the meetings is to offer investigators the opportunity to submit their study proposals for review by a bespoke panel of experts and receive detailed written feedback to assist them with the development of their study, prior to submission to NCRI Partners’ competitive funding streams.

There is a postdoc opportunity in Manav Pathania’s lab at the Milner Therapeutics Institute in Cambridge. They are recruiting a postdoc interested in using cytometry and single-cell approaches to understand paediatric brain tumours better. Prior expertise in using mouse models of cancer or neurodevelopmental disorders would be a big plus! All the details are here. Closing date for applications is 9th September.

In our research update of 23rd July, we reported on Kazia Therapeutics Limited lead programme Paxalisib, a brain-penetrant inhibitor of the PI3K / Akt / mTOR pathway, which is being developed to treat glioblastoma. A move towards the anticipated completion of GBM AGILE clinical trial platform and then, potential, commercialisation was expected. However the sponsor of the study, has advised Kazia that the first stage of the Paxalisib treatment arm did not meet pre-defined criteria for continuing to a second stage. Kazia Therapeutics have since provided an update.

U.S. biopharma company Diffusion Pharmaceuticals Inc. is set to start a new phase 2 clinical trial entitled Open-Label, Dose-Escalation, Phase 2 Safety and Efficacy Study of TSC in Newly Diagnosed Glioblastoma (GBM) Patients when Administered with Standard of Care (“SOC”).” The trial will be designated Study 200-208 and the company expects to initiate the trial by the end of 2022 and anticipates inviting the first patient onto the trial during the first quarter of 2023.

Glioblastoma is robustly regulated by the activity of the brain itself, in part through neuron-to-glioma synaptic communication. In this paid for content, the researchers involved share conceptually advanced understanding of glioblastoma interactions with neural circuits, demonstrating that conduction of electrochemical signals via neuron-to-glioma synapses drives glioma invasion.

Researchers have developed a form of liquid biopsy that detects pieces of tumour cells’ genetic material—called mRNA—that are circulating in the blood and to further detect additional mutations that codes for epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR).The advance, which is described in a study published in  Clinical Cancer Research, provides clinicians with a powerful tool to detect the presence of gliomas, characterise the tumours, and monitor their status after treatment. (Paid for content)

A study evaluating serial injections of oncolytic virus therapy shows promising outcomes in patients with glioblastoma, and opens the door to longitudinal study designs with the potential to yield rich molecular insights. (Paid for content).

High doses of targeted radiation can control tumour growth in the brain but can also result in radiation-induced necrosis. In this study a new MRI technique called selective size imaging using filters via diffusion times (SSIFT) was developed, validated, and evaluated to differentiate brain tumours from radiation necrosis in the brain. The study concluded that this new, cell size-based MRI method provided a unique contrast to differentiate brain tumours from other pathologies. (Paid for content)

In the US, and with the aim of finding a cure for childhood brain cancer the leading cause of cancer deaths among children, Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital is forming the  Mount Sinai Children’s Brain and Spinal Tumor Centre. The centre is being propelled forward by a series of generous grant awards to three of its scientists, all leaders in the field of childhood brain cancer.

Dr. Evan Noch is assistant professor of neurology within the Division of Neuro-oncology at Weill Cornell Medicine-New York-Presbyterian Hospital – he was also diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma. He describes his clinical pathway in this Huffington Post piece and concludes “As a physician, this process has taught me that our experiences can be relevant to our patients and that appropriate sharing is a powerful means to better connect with our patients … I now consider this experience perhaps the most useful tool that I can bring to my clinic.”

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