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16
Nov
2020

Drug discovery by Cure Brain Cancer Foundation researcher leads to new and better clinical trials

 

A message from Dr Genovesi, Cure Brain Cancer Foundation Early Career Fellow 

Medulloblastoma is a common and aggressive paediatric brain cancer and is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in children.

Just two in ten children with medulloblastoma will survive past five years, and that number drops to just one in ten if the tumour returns after treatment.

Working with her team at The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience, Dr Genovesi has discovered that Ibrance, also known as palbococlib, a drug approved for the treatment of breast cancer in Australia, has been shown to shrink medulloblastoma, leading to several clinical trials.

Ibrance is a CDK4/6 inhibitor – a new class of drugs that work by interrupting the process through which cells multiply and divide. To do this, they target specific proteins known as the cyclin-dependent kinases 4 and 6, abbreviated as CDK4/6. That's why they’re often referred to as “targeted therapies.”

Dr Genovesi’s grant has also allowed her to identify which biomarkers, or genetic signatures in a patient make them more likely to better respond to CDK4/6 treatment, which will greatly influence future medulloblastoma clinical trials by ensuring that patients most likely to benefit are prioritised for inclusion in any relevant clinical trials.

Dr Genovesi is also investigating how best to combine CDK4/6 with other cancer-fighting treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

In addition to Ibrance, Dr Genovesi has identified another drug, which also seems to be effective against medulloblastoma. Known as Ixabepilone, the drug is being studied by Dr Genovesi and her team, providing the necessary evidence to take this drug from pre-clinical trials to patients.

According to Dr Genovesi, “Funding from Cure Brain Cancer Foundation has greatly assisted in progressing my research program. In the past year, I have submitted a number of first author manuscripts for publication, which are either under review or at the final stages of revisions in high-impact journals.

Support from Cure Brain Cancer Foundation has also enabled Dr Genovesi to build and strengthen collaborations with some of Australia’s brightest brain cancer minds, helping to accelerate the pace of research. “I have established a number of additional collaborations to address the next phase of my research program,” says Dr Genovesi. “This has greatly increased the impact and feasibility of future research goals.“

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