YBTC funds new research collaboration between Leeds & Hull

YBTC funds new research collaboration between Leeds & Hull

Thu 05 August

We're thrilled to be funding a new-two year project looking into treatments for glioblastoma, led by Dr Lucy Stead and Dr Pedro Beltran-Alvarez.
YBTC has awarded Dr Lucy Stead, Associate Professor at the University of Leeds, a grant of £5,897 to install pioneering tissue-on-chip technology at the Leeds Institute of Medical Research.

Currently, cancer drugs are tested on glioblastoma cells grown in test tubes. This in-vitro model does not accurately replicate the natural tumour environment, making tests inaccurate. Almost 100% of glioblastomas recur between six and nine months after treatment, leading to a dire average survival rate of just 15 months following diagnosis. Understanding what allows these tumours to grow back is key to developing more effective treatments.
The new testing model, originally developed by Dr Pedro Beltran-Alvarez at the University of Hull, places cells on state-of-the-art microfluidic chips, as opposed to in test tubes. The chips feed the cells with nutrients, keep the cells at body temperature and continuously remove waste products.

This more realistic ex-vivo model allows the researchers to better predict how patients will respond to treatment. The researchers will use the model to test various drugs which inhibit molecules which they suspect might be causing treatment resistance.
Dr Beltran-Alvarez will help Dr Stead to install this model at the Leeds Institute of Medical Research. The model requires human tumour tissue, which will be provided by The Leeds Neuro Research Tissue Bank, established in March 2020 and jointly funded by YBTC and Oscar’s Paediatric Brain Tumour Charity.
Dr Stead
commented: “Understanding the ways that tumours develop, grow and respond to drugs in the brain requires that we model the tumour tissue as accurately as possible in the lab. This tissue-on-chip model will give us new insights and better information about brain tumours so we can learn how to more effectively kill them. The Universities of Leeds and Hull are working together to maximise our chances of success, and are hugely grateful to YBTC for enabling this to happen.”
Dr Beltran-Alvarez said: “The role of the YBTC in catalysing a new brain tumour research bridge between Leeds and Hull cannot be overstated. There are now strong ties and regular meetings between the two teams, which have resulted in joint grant applications and, most importantly, new research ideas with the ultimate aim of improving diagnosis, treatment and quality of life for patients. The funding will enable the consolidation of knowledge transfer between Hull and Leeds and we are very grateful to the YBTC for their continued support.”
Our CEO Marie Peacock said: “We are excited to be funding development of the technology at Leeds and hope that in time this will lead to a breakthrough in our understanding of how cells survive and thrive so new treatments can be developed. Working across the two Yorkshire-based universities in Hull and Leeds has been a pleasure and we hope to seek more ways to collaborate across the region to make a big impact on tackling brain tumours.”

To find out more about The Leeds Neuro Research Tissue Bank, click here.

To read about all of our current research projects, click here.
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