Research on epigenetic control of brain tumours from children and adults.
Epigenetic processes control which genes that are expressed - in specific tissues and under specific conditions. Dysfunction of epigenetic control can lead to the development of diseases, including cancer. However, these changes are reversible and can potentially be corrected. Recurrence of cancer is a major problem. A good initial response to treatment often occurs, whereas recurrent tumours are difficult to cure. Cancer stem cells are thought to be a driving force behind tumour recurrence.
In the group we are studying brain tumours, from children and adults, with an epigenetic focus. The most common type of adult brain tumour is glioblastoma. Glioblastomas are highly aggressive with a median survival of less than one year. In children, brain tumours constitute 1/3 of all cancers and are the leading cause of cancer-related mortality and morbidity. There are severe side-effects from the treatment and survivors often experience substantial long-term problems.
The presence of cancer stem cells in brain tumours is well-established but knowledge on what initiate and drives the tumours, and how to target them therapeutically is missing. The long-term goals of our research are to increase survival of patients with brain tumours while decreasing adverse side-effects from treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy. For this we use cancer stem cell culture that we establish from tumour tissue from patients operated with brain tumours.
Short term goal is to improve the care of these patients by developing tools for improved diagnostics and prognostics. For this aim, we use and develop DNA methylation-based diagnostic classifiers. We are currently running a national study to evaluate the benefit of using them in the clinical diagnostics of brain tumours in children.
Tools and resources
We establish patient-derived in vitro cultures from patients undergoing surgery for brain tumours. We use a wide range of experimental and bioinformatic methods in the fields of cell- and molecular biology, pathology and genetics/epigenetics.
Current group members
Helena Carén, PhD, Associate Professor
Maja Löfgren, PhD, Researcher
Teresia Kling, PhD, Researcher
Anna Wenger, PhD student
Sandra Ferreyra Vega, PhD student
Ida Carlsson, PhD student
Elizabeth Schepke, MD, PhD student
Katja Werlenius, MD, PhD student
Louise Carstam, MD, Associated PhD student
Olivia Näslund, MD, Associated PhD student
The group works very closely with many clinicians in Gothenburg; at the departments of Neurosurgery, Pathology, Oncology and Paediatric Oncology.