Development of clinically relevant brain tumour models to identify new treatment regimes

Development of clinically relevant brain tumour models to identify new treatment regimes

Official Title: Development of clinically relevant brain tumour models to identify new treatment regimes

Lead Researcher: Dr Spencer Collis
Clinical PhD Student: Ola Rominiyi

Where: University of Sheffield
When: 2016 - 2019
Cost: £18,975
Research Type: Adult, High-Grade, Glioblastoma

Ola Rominiyi

Development of clinically relevant brain tumour models to identify new treatment regimes

    Current position:

   Neuro-surgical trainee at Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

    Ola carries out surgery in patients with brain tumours. He is also 
    heavily involved in the establishment and further development of
   Sheffield's Translational Brain Tumour Research Initiative aimed at
   increasing our neuro-oncology research and clinical trail capacity over
   the next 5-10 years.

Disappointingly, no new treatments for high-grade brain tumours have been clinically approved since the chemotherapeutic agent Temozolomide back in 2005. This highlights that our current laboratory models that we use to carry out brain tumour research are not very good at identifying new treatment strategies and/or drugs that can effectively treat brain tumours. This likely goes some way to explaining why the survival rates of patients with brain tumours have improved little over the last 40 years.
Current laboratory models of brain tumours include growing brain tumour cells as 2D sheets in plastic flasks and dishes, 3D “neurospheres” and harsh animal models, which each have their unique strengths and weaknesses. The majority of these models use surplus brain tumour tissue gathered from surgery, which although allows research on real brain tumour tissue, might not best represent the treatment of these tumours in the clinic.
This is because the majority of the brain tumour is removed by surgery (“resected tumour”) before patients receive chemo- and radiotherapy. It is impossible to remove all brain cancer cells during surgery, particularly where they invade deep into healthy brain tissue, which surgeons are mindful not to damage. As such, some brain cancer cells are inevitably left behind (“residual tumour”). We believe that these residual tumour cells might be particularly resistant to treatment and able to regrow new tumours. This is what is seen in the majority of brain tumour patients, when they enter relapse often with more aggressive and resistant tumours.
During his PhD studies, Ola therefore used his surgical expertise to generate unique laboratory 3D models of both “resected” and “residual” brain tumours from an individual patient’s brain tumour. This has allowed him to determine interesting biological differences between the “resected” and “residual” brain tumour cells. In particular, he has found differences that might explain how they are able to re-grow quickly and become resistant to treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Ola also generated several unique 3D brain tumour models of different regions within the same brain tumour, as we know that different parts of a large tumour can behave differently to the treatments that we use. Using these models, we hope to identify genetic and biological characteristics that will help identify drug treatments that might be more effective at killing a larger portion of a particular brain tumour.
Collectively, these unique brain tumour models generated by Ola, with generous support from YBTC, will allow us to carry our further research to help identify new treatments and drug combinations that are effective at killing the resistant brain tumour cells left behind after surgery. We therefore hope that this work might in the future offer patients better and more effective treatment options for these currently incurable tumours.

Additional Information

See more information about Dr Spencer Collis HERE

See more information about Ola Rominiyi HERE

Recent commentary article on clinically relevant brain tumour laboratory models HERE.
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