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13
Feb
2018

International glioma collaborative launches position paper


The GLASS Consortium at their first face-to-face meeting in 2015.

In February 2018, the Glioma Longitudinal AnalySiS Consortium (GLASS) released their inaugural position paper, which aims to provide essential insights into the evolution of glioma – the most frequent primary brain tumour in adults. These insights, it is hoped, can be used to reveal vulnerabilities in these tumours and ultimately, deliver improved outcomes for patients diagnosed with the disease in the future.

Eight leading Australian researchers contributed to this international paper, which includes investigators from 34 academic hospitals, universities and research institutes from 12 countries. Among these investigators are Cure Brain Cancer Foundation’s Head of Biomarker and Translational Research, Associate Professor Kerrie McDonald, and Associate Professor Mustafa Khasraw, who sits on Cure Brain Cancer Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Committee.

The major findings from the paper are summarised below, and the entire paper can be downloaded here.

Major findings

Adult diffuse gliomas are a group of brain neoplasms that inflict a high emotional toll on patients and their families. They are the most common primary brain tumour in adults around the world. While primary gliomas have been studied by initiatives such as The Cancer Genome Atlas in the past, GLASS will look at primary and recurrent tumours for the first time.

Understanding tumour recurrence is the next stage in glioma genomics, as these tumours are increasingly resistant to treatment if they grow back after the initial standard therapy. Understanding how and why this happens will have major implications for cancer biology research and the development of potential new therapies, as when tumours recur they often display different characteristics to their primary growth.

Gaining this understanding will only be possible if:

  • a sufficient number of matched primary and recurrent tumours, and associated imaging (scans), are profiled. This will allow researchers to identify common variants or therapy driving processes in those samples 
  • the way data is collected and stored across the contributing institutions is standardised 

The international collaboration displayed by the GLASS consortium is vital to establish the large dataset necessary to provide new insights into the mechanisms used by gliomas to resist current treatments. As brain cancer is a rare disease, there are not enough samples in Australia alone to quickly gather the necessary primary and recurrent samples. By working internationally, this process can be expedited.

GLASS will perform comprehensive molecular profiling of matched primary and recurrent glioma specimens from 1500 patients. 500 samples of each of the three major glioma molecular subtypes will be studied in this way. This will establish a reference dataset that draws information from all participating institutes across the world, allowing researchers to identify why recurrent gliomas defy treatment options.

The collaboration is also an excellent opportunity for knowledge exchange, which will hopefully build smarter clinical trials and develop therapies that will extend survival and improve patients’ quality of life. The consortium is still inviting new collaborators to join, with the major criteria for participation being the ability to offer datasets of profiled glioma patients or the availability of suitable tissue samples.