Enabling insightful comparisons
By using a combination of laboratory work and sophisticated analytical computer programmes, the team at Queen Mary has identified significant molecular differences which could be exploited to develop new treatments. The SYNCN approach enables the comparison of normal and malignant cells from the same patient helping to identify genes that play a role in the growth of the tumour. The use of NSC is a key factor in this, since the cells have been identified as a point of origin of at least a proportion of GBM, both in mouse models and in human patients, explained Professor Marino. ‘The strength of our study is to leverage state-of-the-art stem cell technology to derive iNSC from patient’s fibroblasts through in vitro reprogramming, allowing us to compare – for the first time – the epigenetic and transcriptional make-up of GIC with that of patient-matched normal iNSC.’ Previously, this comparison was not feasible, as patient-matched endogenous NSC (eNSC) are not surgically accessible and all epigenetic studies in GBM had so far compared epigenetic changes of GBM cells with each other, or to comparators obtained from fetal brains or an unrelated donor.
GBM is the most common malignant brain tumour in adults, only a quarter of patients survive for more than one year and just 5% live for more than five years. Its aggressive nature allows it to spread extensively into surrounding brain tissue, making complete removal by surgery almost impossible. In addition, GBM is extremely resistant to radiotherapy and chemotherapy, with a strong probability of recurrence after treatment. One of the main challenges in developing effective treatments is that the tumour exhibits significant variation between patients, even displaying variation within a single patient’s tumour.
Source: Healthcare in Europe