Medulloblastoma is the most common childhood brain cancer and although survival rate is more than 70 per cent, the life-long toxic effects of therapy are unacceptable.
This two-year project aims to make current chemotherapy protocols more effective with the ultimate goal of relying less on radiotherapy, because radiation can result in a number of long-term negative side effects in survivors.
Dr Nick Gottardo's group have screened over 3,000 drugs against live medulloblastoma cells using high throughput robotic technology. The team found one class of drugs in particular enhanced the activity of current standard-of care chemotherapy.
Dr Gottardo's team uses sophisticated laboratory models called “avatars”. Cells from a child's tumour are transplanted and grown in the mouse in the same location they were taken from the patient. This unique approach makes the mouse model a close replica of the patient's tumour allowing Dr Gottardo to study the efficacy of the new drugs in vivo.
“Cancer takes away children at the dawn of their lives.” - Dr Nick Gottardo