Dr Sandra Campbell, Supernumerary Fellow at St John’s, together with Professor Nicola Sibson, Professor Daniel Anthony and Professor Mark Middleton have been awarded a Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme (DPFS) grant from the Medical Research Council (MRC) for their project, ‘Permeabilisation of brain metastases for early and more effective treatment’ which will be run from the Department of Oncology, University of Oxford.
An estimated 24–45 per cent of cancer patients develop brain metastases, with most originating from the lung, breast, melanoma, colorectal and kidney. Metastasis to the brain is a major challenge in cancer therapy and prognosis is poor. The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a significant impediment to both early detection and effective treatment, as it is intact during the early stages of tumour development and only heterogeneously permeable at later stages. The presence of an intact BBB excludes both therapeutic and diagnostic imaging agents from metastases.
This £3.3million grant will allow the team to build on their previous MRC-funded work where they designed and developed an intravenous ligand that can selectively open the blood-brain barrier at sites of brain metastasis by binding to upregulated cytokine receptors. Advantages of this permeabilisation strategy over others in the market are that there is a short window of permeabilisation (24 hours); it facilitates entry of therapeutically relevant chemotherapeutic agents; and no knowledge of the metastatic sites is required as they are targeted by the receptor upregulation. This approach enables brain metastases to be treated as systemic metastases which will open the therapeutic options for this category of patients. In this current study, the team will develop a clinic-ready agent for clinical trials.
" Treatment of brain metastasis is an unresolved medical need and I am delighted to be part of a project that helps to address this. " Dr Sandra Campbell
The DPFS is a key part of the MRC’s Translational Research Strategy and supports the translation of fundamental discoveries toward benefits to human health. It funds the pre-clinical development and early clinical testing of novel therapeutics, devices and diagnostics, including ‘repurposing’ of existing therapies.