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Researchers at DCU & Beaumont Hospital in race to identify brain tumours that respond to new drugs
Novel patient-relevant brain tumour cancer research study being carried out in Dublin, Ireland looking at patient samples at the molecular level to identify which specific patients respond to a new group of drugs called Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors.
By: Patrick Corley
The team is analysing glioma brain tumour samples donated by patients attending Beaumont Hospital, so that they can to help identify which patients might respond to a new group of drugs called Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors (TKIs) and which will not. This preclinical laboratory-based research may enable brain surgeons and medical oncologists treating patients with glioma’s to reach a specific molecular diagnosis and to help decide on a tailored treatment plan for each patient.
Speaking about this preclinical research, project leader Dr Verena Amberger-Murphy, a biomedical scientist expert in brain tumour research, who formerly worked in Canada and Switzerland, but is now based at the National Institute for Cellular Biotechnology in DCU said “Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors have already been used to treat glioma’s and have shown potential benefit in a subgroup of patients. However, we now need to study brain tumour samples in the laboratory at the molecular level to identify which specific patients respond to these drugs in advance”. This knowledge applied to the clinical setting could ultimately lead to ways to reduce the rate of growth of glioma brain tumours and their capacity to infiltrate into surrounding brain tissue.
Commenting on this research, Dr. Patrick Corley, Cancer Research Officer with the Irish Cancer Society said, “Generally throughout Europe, there is a lack of research on brain tumours, therefore we are excited that this research which has direct relevance to patient care is being carried out in Ireland”
The latest data from the National Cancer Registry indicates that on average there are 213 new cases of primary brain tumours diagnosed each year in Ireland and there are on average 264 deaths from brain tumours every year. The different types of brain tumours are usually named after the type of brain cells from which they have developed. More than half of all brain tumours develop from the supporting cells of the brain known as the glial cells and are known as gliomas. Despite major improvements in the surgical treatment of gliomas, the overall prognosis for invasive tumours is poor because they are extremely resistant to both chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors (TKIs) are known as targeted therapies. Examples of TKI’s are Gleevec (imitinib) and Tarceva (erlontinib)
This research is being funded by Cancer Research Ireland (CRI), the research division of the Irish Cancer Society. CRI is the largest single voluntary funder of cancer research in Ireland and in 2007 is investing €2.4 million Euro in hospitals and universities throughout Ireland.
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For further information and/or to organise an interview with an expert in brain tumour research, please contact Jane Curtin, Communications Manager, Irish Cancer Society. Tel.: + 353 - 1 - 2310 517 or Mobile : +353 - 87 - 938 0779