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Manipulating the tumour's environment

Fast facts

  • Official title: High-dimensional analysis of microglial drug response in glioblastoma bioreactors
  • Lead researcher: Dr Gregor Hutter
  • Where: Department of Biomedicine, University of Basel, Switzerland
  • When: January 2019 - December 2020
  • Cost: £117,750
  • Research type: Adult, Glioblastoma (High Grade), Academic

Glioblastomas are the most common, and one of the most aggressive types of brain cancer found in adults. The current standard treatment involves surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible, followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Despite aggressive treatments, overall survival is 14 months after diagnosis, making finding new approaches to treat this type of tumour essential.

Targeting the tumour's environment

The environment in which a tumour exists contains several different types of cells. Some of these cell types support tumour growth and promote its spread to other parts of the brain. Microglia are one of the cell types that play an important role in supporting tumour growth. However, researchers have shown that it's possible to manipulate and reprogramme microglia to have an anti-cancer function.

The aim of Dr Hutter's research is to use a combination of drugs to reprogramme microglia to kill glioblastoma cells. The research team will use a special device called a bioreactor to store the tumour samples and observe the interactions between tumour cells and microglia. They will then use a combination of drugs to manipulate the microglia and reprogramme the cells to be able to target the tumour cells. The researchers will the use specialised laboratory techniques to analyse the tumour samples to evaluate if this method of targeting glioblastoma cells is successful. They will then analyse the cells to see if this method of targeting glioblastoma cells is successful.

Finding new targets for treatment

This research project will improve our understanding of the role the tumour environment plays in the growth of glioblastomas. It will provide the foundation for developing new and improved treatments for people suffering from this devastating disease.

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