Search for early diagnostic markers of brain cancer supported with ACRF funding

014_Directors_MIMR_356911ACRF-funded cutting edge technology is helping researchers at Melbourne’s MIMR-PHI Institute move closer to early diagnosis and treatment of Glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of brain cancer.

More than 1,000 Australians are affected by Glioblastoma each year and most are not expected to live more than two years after diagnosis. Although researchers have come a long way in understanding and managing the disease, diagnosis and treatment remain a challenge.

The research, conducted by Head of the Centre for Genetic Diseases Professor Justin St John and his team, utilises Ion PGM Next Generation Sequencing technology to analyse tumour samples from patients. The sequencing technology allows the research team to identify key mutations within the ‘mitochondrial’ genome; mutations which are associated with Glioblastoma and could be powerful markers for early diagnosis.

Not only does this research enable diagnosis within 72 hours of taking a tumour biopsy, Professor St John also hopes his team’s insights will give hope for a much better outcome to Glioblastoma patients and their families, through better treatments.

“By understanding the role of mitochondrial DNA in the progression of these tumours, we can focus on finding new targets for development of treatments to inhibit tumour growth and improve clinical outcomes,” he said.

“We would not have been able to progress this research and develop capacity to rapidly screen for Glioblastoma associated mutations in the mitochondrial genome without the support of the ACRF and access to this technology. It has made the difficult search for fatal mutations significantly easier.”