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New techniques for delivery of therapies against medulloblastoma

Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumour in children. We can now cure 70 per cent of children affected by it, but the necessarily aggressive treatments can leave them with significant disability. Dr Amin wants to develop a new way of delivering chemotherapy directly to the tumour. Success could ultimately result in the development of a much-needed, less damaging new treatment option for young patients with medulloblastoma.

We’re funding vital research into new ways of treating Medulloblastoma – the most common malignant childhood brain tumour – to improve on the 70 per cent survival rate and reduce the side-effects of treatment.

Developing advanced MRI scanning to improve Wilms' tumour diagnosis

Project Details

  • Project Title

    Phage-guided therapy against molecular targets in medulloblastoma

  • Lead Researcher

    Dr Amin Hajitou

  • Research Centre

    Imperial College London

  • City & Institution Postcode

    London W12 0NN

  • Start Date

    15 March 2014

  • Duration

    3 years

  • Grant Amount

    £219,854

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Overview

Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumour in children. Around 70 per cent of affected children can now be cured, but the aggressive treatment leaves survivors with a poor quality of life, often suffering serious physical and mental disabilities.

We urgently need to develop safer, non-invasive, tumour specific treatments to preserve quality of life in children affected by this disease.

A major problem with treating brain tumours is that it’s often difficult to completely remove them surgically without damaging surrounding brain tissue. Radiotherapy may also damage healthy tissue; and chemotherapy must be delivered locally to the tumour as intravenous drugs will not pass the blood-brain barrier.

We’re making progress with new, biologically-targeted therapies but still need an effective, non-invasive way to get them directly to the tumour. This project is designed to address that need.

What difference will this project make?

This is a crucially important project. New therapies for medulloblastoma are desperately needed, not only to improve the survival rate for young patients, but to preserve their quality of life.

Dr Amin is working on the development of a new way to deliver drugs to the brain bypassing the blood-brain barrier, carried by a special virus. He’ll use something called a bacteriophage particle, which has long been safely administered to both adults and children in antibiotic therapy.

This funding is enabling him to develop and test the technology in his laboratory, first in vitro and then using mice, to confirm that it’s effective and safe.

If this project is successful, Dr Amin will pave the way for clinical trials in children affected by medulloblastoma, offering a much-needed, less damaging new treatment option.

About the Research Team

Dr Amin Hajitou is a leading authority in phage technology. He trained at the world-leading MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, then brought the technology to London, establishing his own lab at Imperial College.

His team at Imperial is working together with neurosurgeon Mr Kevin O’Neill from Charing Cross Hospital, who will supply the human tumour tissue, and neuropathologist Professor Steve Gentleman, also of Imperial College, who will assess brain and other tissue for damage.

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