Aggressive brain tumours (such as glioblastoma) have a poor prognosis. This is despite surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. In order to improve the outcome we need to understand why current therapies are failing. We are fortunate to have number of new tools using advanced imaging, which are helping us to understand the biology behind treatment failure. PET imaging is allowing us to see if a cancer is active and how much oxygen it is using.
I plan to develop a program of research focused on uncovering the reasons for treatment failure and overcoming this. Together with Medical Physics at the Calvary Mater we will develop a mobile irradiator for research use. We will develop laboratory cell line models, which have been treated to become treatment resistant, and we will examine drugs which may reverse this.
At the same time I am doing a study in brain cancer patients using a common epilepsy drug (valproate) which may be helpful in making brain tumours more sensitive to treatment. This research has suggested that lack of oxygen contributes to resistance. We plan to start another study with drugs targeting low oxygen in tumours and the impact this has on recurrence.
Understanding and overcoming treatment resistance in brain tumours