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Brain tumours to be used to manufacture stem cells

Published on 10/07/17 at 02:43pm

Censo Biotechnologies has announced that it will collaborate with the University of Leeds to use the latest stem cell technology to potentially identify new drug candidates for brain tumours. In particular, the novel method will involve taking brain tumours from patients, as a normal part of their clinical treatment, to create stem cells that could then have prospective drugs tested on them.

The research will be funded the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, alongside Cancer Research Technology, which will aid the drug discovery phase of the project. The collaboration will run for an initial two years and represents one of the largest programmes to create induced pluripotent stem cells from cancer cells.

One of the major goals of the study is to discover why brain cancer cells display different behaviour compared with healthy brain cells. This could then provide researchers with a base from which to target the cells to develop therapeutic drugs.

The need is particularly great in high-grade glioma, with patients having this type of tumour typically only surviving 12-15 months after diagnosis.

Dr Heiko Wurdak Stem Cells and Brain Tumour Group, University of Leeds stated: “Many brain cancer patients are facing a disease with a dismal prognosis and better treatments are urgently required. It is challenging to develop better therapies for a cancer that entails more than one hundred tumour types, numerous clinical subtypes, and a broad spectrum of patient-to-patient differences. We are very excited by the prospect of generating a considerable number of new brain cancer models, which we hope will represent many of the patient-to-patient differences observed in the clinic.”

It will be hoped that such a treatment breakthrough can be made to aid the approximately 4,000 people who are diagnosed with high-grade glioma each year. If success is had with this particular technique, it is one that could potentially be transferred over to other targets – with the technology in place to develop stem cells from other forms of cancer.

Ben Hargreaves

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