Upcoming Seminars

Instructor in Neurosurgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School
Developing Precision Medicines Against High-grade Gliomas
Thursday, October 26, 2017 - 13:00
Shuttleworth Auditorium (D0-104), St. Joseph's Hospital, 268 Grosvenor Street, London, Ontario



Problem: Advanced brain cancers, including glioblastoma, are incurable and have a high mortality rate. Patients typically undergo surgery, followed by chemotherapy, radiotherapy or both. But even with this aggressive treatment strategy, the survival rate of patients has only improved slightly, from 11 months (with no treatment) to 14.6 months from the time of diagnosis. It is impossible to completely remove aggressive brain cancer cells by surgery because these cells invade the surrounding normal brain tissue and cannot be easily identified. Cancer drugs administered via the bloodstream are often unable to reach these cells, as the cells are protected by the blood-brain barrier, which isolates brain tissues from foreign molecules introduced through the blood stream. Our mission is to address these dire clinical challenges by developing new targeted therapies that can effectively cross the blood-brain barrier and selectively seek out and destroy brain tumor cells.

Solution: We have developed a unique molecule that can cross the blood-brain barrier, as well as identify and home in on brain cancer cells. This allows us to target only the tumor cells without harming healthy tissue. This tumor-homing "smart missile" is called BTP-7. Our target is a protein signature, known as B/b(delta)g that is present only on the surface of brain cancer cells; this is not found in healthy tissue. BTP-7 binds to this protein and then becomes internalized by the brain cancer cells. Our plan is to chemically fuse a chemotherapeutic drug or imaging agent onto BTP-7. We will generate many different BTP-7 missiles containing various types of anti-cancer drug or imaging agent to enable us to selectively visualize and destroy the tumor.

Benefit: Conventional chemotherapy drugs travel throughout the body and can also damage normal healthy cells, causing severe side effects in patients, Improving our ability to direct these drugs specifically to the tumor should enable us to increase treatment effectiveness while reducing the unwanted side effects of chemotherapy. Findings from our research could help us develop the next generation of therapeutics to extend the lives of patients with advanced brain cancer, as well as improve the quality of life of the patients and their families.