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sector_ico_Health_trans Human Health

Modeling and Therapeutic Targeting of the Clinical and Genetic Diversity of Glioblastoma (Therapeutic Targeting of GBM)

  • Project Leaders: Gregory Cairncross, David Kaplan, Marco Marra, Samuel Weiss, Stephen Robbins, Warren Mason
  • Institutions: University of British Columbia (UBC)
  • Budget: $1858423
  • Program/Competition: Partner Programs
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome British Columbia
  • Fiscal Year: 2012
  • Status: Closed

Glioblastoma (GBM) is a deadly brain cancer that has eluded major treatment advances. New therapies for GBM are needed, however there is no consensus on how best to find them. The GBM project aimed to address this gap by pursuing the following project deliverables:

  1. developing specialized in vitro and in vivo models of GBM to support future discovery, 
  2. identifying drugs and/or drug combinations to treat GBM that could enter human trials, and 
  3. completing the in-depth characterization of a large panel of brain tumour initiating cells (BTICs) and making them publicly available to academia and industry for future studies.

The project team capitalized on a method of growing stem cells from the brain called brain tumor initiating cells (BTICs), that captures and retains the major genetic alterations that were present in the GBM tumors from which they were derived. This cell-based model system was the foundation for an innovative drug discovery program with real potential for rapid clinical translation. The approach combined a model system with high-throughput drug screening and genomics sequencing technologies and holds promise for identifying potential therapeutics, including those re-purposed from other indications. Unfortunately, the compounds identified in the study did not achieve the desired result in clinical trials. However, a number of legacy benefits were obtained, including establishing an operational pre-clinical core facility and a biospecimen core with metadata available to researchers.