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How pGBM and DIPG tumours migrate and invade to help find clues to new treatments

Despite advances in our treatments for many types of cancer, the survival rate for children affected by tumours like paediatric glioblastoma (pGBM) and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) remains low, and we urgently need new treatments.

One of the major challenges with these highly aggressive cancers is tumour invasion and, although we now understand a lot more about the biology of the disease, we still have no effective treatment. These tumours tend to be very varied, and to respond differently, making it hard to find effective ways to treat them.

In her previous research, Dr Maria Vinci (pictured below) has studied the architecture of both pGBM and DIPG, developing her understanding of how they grow and spread early in their development.

In this important project, she will analyse the mechanisms by which pGBM/DIPG cells migrate and invade, to identify the key factors that affect these processes, and combine advanced imaging and proteomic analysis coupled to specific drug screens to identify new ways to target pGBM/DIPG migration/invasion.

Project Details

  • Project Title

    The role of interclonal communication and the tumour microenvironment in driving paediatric GBM and DIPG migration and invasion

  • Lead Researcher

    Dr Maria Vinci

  • Research Centre

    The Institute of Cancer Research

  • City & Institution Postcode


  • Start Date

    1 January 2017

  • Duration


  • Grant Amount



Children with Cancer UK is helping to fund research on how tumour cells in paediatric glioblastoma (pGBM) and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma behave and interact with each other and conditions in the brain, helping to find more effective ways to treat them.

Potential impact

By developing our understanding of how tumour cells adapt and react to the physical and mechanical properties of the microenvironment in the brain, as well as how they invade and migrate into brain tissue, Dr Vinci believes she may be able to identify potential new ways to inhibit the ability of pGMB and DIPG to develop and spread.

This would represent an important step forward in finding effective treatments for children affected by these aggressive and devastating cancers.

About the research team

Dr Vinci is a senior post-doctoral researcher in the Glioma Team at the Institute of Cancer Research. She has extensive experience in the molecular cell biology of cancer, particularly glioma, considerable expertise in 2D/3D models, and has developed new image-analysis techniques.

Her research is hosted in the laboratory of Professor Chris Jones, one of the leading pGBM/DIPG research groups in the world. Professor Jones is Chair of the HGG/DIPG Biology Sub-committee of the SIOPE Brain Tumour Working Group and co-PI of INSTINCT, a national network dedicated to advancing novel treatments in high-risk paediatric brain tumours.

The lab will provide access to infrastructures needed, and is part of the Centre for Evolution and Cancer and the Divisions of Molecular Pathology and Cancer Therapeutics. This offers opportunity to connect with other experts in paediatric cancers, including Prof Lou Chesler and Dr Yann Jamin (neuroblastoma), Prof Mel Greaves (leukaemia), Prof Janet Shipley and Dr Zoe Walters (sarcoma).

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