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Hope for children – understanding why some medullablastoma brain tumours don’t respond to chemotherapy

  • Researcher: Professor Michael Taylor
  • Institution: The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada
  • Award Amount: £205,115 for 3 years from 1st June 2016
  • Cancer Type: Brain Cancer
Hope for children – understanding why some medullablastoma brain tumours don’t respond to chemotherapy
Professor Taylor in Toronto is working to improve standard treatments for an aggressive form of childhood brain tumour.

Medulloblastomas are one of the most common types of brain tumour to affect children and young teenagers. Despite advances in treatment and survival, they still account for around 1 in 10 of all childhood cancer deaths.

“This type of brain tumour can sometimes spread around the brain and spinal cord, making it very difficult for doctors to treat,” explains Professor Taylor. “Conventional treatment consists of a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, which often successfully shrinks the original tumour but is less effective at controlling the cancer which has spread.”

In this project Professor Taylor and his team want to find out why chemotherapy treatments sometimes don’t work against these medulloblastoma tumours.

“Understanding why medulloblastoma sometimes fails to respond to chemotherapy is key to developing novel and meaningful therapies.” Says Professor Taylor. “Yet this is often a neglected area of brain tumour research.”

“In this study we will search for the tumour genes which make tumour cells and tumours which have spread ‘chemoresistant’, that is, able to survive chemotherapy treatment. If we can unveil the core mechanisms of chemoresistance in medulloblastoma, this knowledge will contribute to the development of better treatments, and ultimately, we hope, improve survival for children with medulloblastoma.”
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