A better cure for an incurable brain tumour

This project was selected thanks to a partnership with ITCC through an open call for projects. Nine European projects applied and were reviewed by four American renowned experts. KickCancer chose the two best projects, including this one.

Brain tumours are the main causes of mortality and morbidity of children, adolescents and young adults. Gliomas are the most frequent and the most fatal kind, among which the diffuse intrinsic pontic gliomas (or DIPG) represents the most severe form, universally incurable with hardly any patients surviving more than 2 years after the diagnosis.

90 % patients’ DIPG present a common genetic alteration, which leads to a complete reorganisation of the gene expression.

However, these cases can be subdivided into two distinct sub-group, allocated to each one along specific shared characteristics: age at diagnosis, propensity to rapidly produce metastasis, response to radiotherapy and survival time.

This project will characterise these two sub-groups by scrutinising their differences at the epigenetic level. Epigenetics study the expression or regulation of the genes: it focuses on the sequences of the gene and analyses which are activated, and which are not.

These results will allow to confirm the current hypothesis according to which the tumours from these two sub-groups result from the alteration of stem cells at a different stage of development. It will also reinforce the need to contemplate different targeted treatment for each sub-group, despite the fact that they present the same genetic mutation.

Finally, 10% patients do not present this genetic mutation. The project will also analyse the tumours of this third sub-group at the molecular level and determine whether it should be regarded as a totally different group or whether it should be integrated into one of the two major DIPG sub-groups.

This project will be led by the Institut Gustave Roussy (Paris, France), in collaboration with the laboratory of the University of Heidelberg (Germany).

This project will not only advance the stratification of the patients affected by DIPG but it will also allow to improve our understanding of the early development stages of these tumours and serve as a basis for the development of new therapeutic options.

Status update: both projects started in October 2018 and will last 12 months. The final activity report will be issued in December 2019.

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