Half of all malignant childhood gliomas arise in the brainstem, most frequently in the ventral pons as diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG). The anatomical location of the tumour precludes surgical resection, leaving only radiotherapy as the established therapy. Unfortunately, radiotherapy is only temporarily beneficial, and occasionally completely fails, leaving patients without treatment option.

To date, conventional chemotherapeutics have failed patients, associated with their failure to cross the blood brain barrier, a lack specific therapies effective against DIPG recurring mutations, and a lack of approaches to assess disease progression. As a result, DIPG has one of worst prognoses of all cancers, with a median overall survival rate of just 10 months.

Assessment of cancer progression using non-invasive serial blood collections, coupled to sophisticated DNA sequencing techniques has enabled researchers and clinicians to determine the efficacy of treatment regimens in real time. This information can provide treating clinicians with a guide to which therapies are working, which are failing, and what to use during cancer progression. These very recent advancements allow the treating team to make dynamic decisions that potentially can improve patient survival. To date, this has not formed part of treatment for kids with DIPG.

This project will assess whether tumour specific DNA can be identified in patients blood samples with brain cancers.


Research Area 
Project type 
Project Grant
Year of funding