Making radiotherapy more effective against cancers that have spread to the brain
Aim of the research
Dr Manuel Valiente aims to find out how a particular protein in cancer cells helps make them resistant to the effects of radiotherapy once they have spread to the brain.
Meet the scientist
Manuel is a Principle Investigator at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas in Spain. After receiving his PhD in 2009 in Neuroscience, Maunel applied his knowledge of the brain to study how cancers are able to spread and colonise the brain. In 2015, Manuel established the Brain Metastasis Group at the CNIO where he leads a team of scientists whose goal is to discover critical aspects of the biology of brain metastasis that can be directed toward the development of new therapeutic opportunities.
More about the research project
Many cancers are now treatable thanks to improved diagnosis and effective treatments that target the primary breast cancer. However, as people live longer with cancer there has been a parallel increase in the number of people whose cancer returns – particularly in the brain. Brain cancer, and other cancers that have spread to the brain, can be very difficult to treat due to their location making surgery challenging, and the lack of drugs that can cross over into the brain and attack the tumour. Radiation therapy is a treatment option for tumours in the brain, but even though it has proven to be able to penetrate the brain, it doesn’t benefit every patient.
Dr Manuel Valiente and his team based at the National Cancer Research Centre, Madrid, Spain, have recently discovered that a specific protein found in cancers that have spread to the brain seems to be linked to the cancer being resistant to radiotherapy. Dr Valiente now wants to study this link in more detail to find out how this protein controls resistance to radiotherapy and its role in the spread of cancer to the brain. Ultimately, they want to work out if this protein can be used as a marker to identify patients that will benefit from radiotherapy, and see if they can target the protein therapeutically to make radiotherapy more effective.