Aggressive brain tumours to be newly targeted with Leukaemia therapy

A new target for treating aggressive brain tumours has been discovered by researchers at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR), and better still, a therapy for this target is already in the advanced stages of development.

Originally, the protein EphA3 was discovered in 1992 for its role in promoting Leukaemia cancer cells. This finding was made by Professor Andrew Boyd at QIMR, and clinical trials have since commenced to test a treatment which targets that particular cancer cell activity.

Now, years later, Professor Andrew Boyd together with Dr Bryan Day have found the same protein is implicated in up to 50% of cases of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), particularly in the most aggressive cases.

“This protein is something we can directly target with a treatment we’ve already developed,” said Dr Day.

“It’s early days, but we know cells which express the protein EphA3 can be eradicated in the laboratory with this treatment, so it’s very encouraging.”

GBM is the most common primary adult brain cancer, and it is nearly always fatal. Every year it kills approximately 1000 Australians, most often within two years of diagnosis.

“Despite the best efforts of medical researchers, survival rates for GBM have barely changed in 50 years,” Professor Boyd said.

“New treatments for this aggressive type of brain cancer are an urgent clinical challenge – my dream would be a clinical trial of anti-EphA3 in brain tumours in the next few years.”

This discovery has been published in the prestigious journey Cancer Cell, and you can access it online here.

The ACRF is proud to be associated with the work of the world-class researchers at QIMR, having awarded their teams more than $4 million in recent years.

You can view the original press release from QIMR here.