Dr. Patrick Paddison of the Human Biology Division was recently awarded $148,000 by Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure to identify and develop combination therapies for glioblastoma, the most common and most aggressive form of brain cancer in adults.
Paddison and his colleagues are using glioblastoma as a test case for finding cancer-specific therapeutic targets. They now have the capacity to derive tumor stem cells, which are likely responsible for tumor growth, directly from these brain tumors. Paddison uses a gene knockdown technology, called RNA interference, to remove gene activities one-by-one from these cells to identify key cancer drivers and therapeutic targets.
Since each tumor stem cell sample comes from a specific patient, treatment can be personalized, but since the researchers have access to tumor samples from different patients, they can also determine which strategies will be effective for most patients.
“From preliminary studies, we now have a candidate target that appears specifically lethal to all glioma cells but not normal cells,” Paddison said. “This funding allows us to take our approach a step further to assay all the genes in the human genome in multiple tumor isolates.”
Paddison, who is mentored by Dr. Jim Olson of the Clinical Research Division, said it was a great step forward for solid tumor research at the Hutchinson Center. “Our ability to attract funding from cancer foundations like ABC2 shows that we are on the right track with our solid tumor program,” he said.
The Paddison Lab collaborates with Drs. Steven Pollard and Austin Smith at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Stem Cell Research in the United Kingdom to create optimal conditions for deriving and growing glioblastoma stem cells.
Since 2001, ABC2 has awarded over $13 million to fund brain cancer research. It invests in each stage of the therapeutic development pipeline by breaking down barriers to entry, focusing on novel therapies, and investing with companies to bring the most promising treatments to patients quickly.