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11:14 AM 23rd August 2018

BTRS Helps Fund Groundbreaking Glioblastoma Research

Dr Heiko Wurdak in his lab
Dr Heiko Wurdak in his lab
Brain Tumour Research and Support Across Yorkshire (BTRS), the region’s leading brain tumour charity, has part-funded groundbreaking research that has discovered a chemical which can kill glioblastoma cells.

The research, led by the Dr Heiko Wurdak’s team at the University of Leeds, found that aggressive brain tumour cells taken from patients self-destructed after being exposed to a chemical in laboratory tests. The chemical, named KHS101, was able to cut the energy source of tumour cells from glioblastoma, leading to the death of the cells.

Published in Science Translational Medicine, the research could be the breakthrough charities like BTRS have been working so hard to achieve – setting a new platform for future research into curing aggressive brain cancers.

Every week 12 people in Yorkshire are diagnosed with a brain tumour and glioblastoma – a cancer that rose in public consciousness earlier this year after Tessa Jowell’s death ¬– is one of the deadliest cancers with a five-year survival rate of less than five per cent.

Tumour cells under normal conditions (left) compared with tumour cells after 48 hours exposure to KHS101 (right), which have been grouped together to undergo cell death.
Tumour cells under normal conditions (left) compared with tumour cells after 48 hours exposure to KHS101 (right), which have been grouped together to undergo cell death.
Dr Heiko Wurdak said:
“When we started this research we thought KHS101 might slow down the growth of glioblastoma, but we were surprised to find that the tumour cells basically self-destructed when exposed to it.

“This is the first step in a long process, but our findings pave the way for drug developers to start investigating the uses of this chemical, and we hope that one day it will be helping to extend people’s lives in the clinic.

“Brain Tumour Research and Support across Yorkshire have been incredibly supportive of our research. We are very lucky to have such an excellent charity focusing on the needs of patients with brain cancer in the local environment.”

Tumour cells after treatment with KHS101 engage in a self-destruction process that involves ‘self-eating’ of biological material labelled by the red staining
Tumour cells after treatment with KHS101 engage in a self-destruction process that involves ‘self-eating’ of biological material labelled by the red staining
Rachel Finlay, charity manager at BTRS said:
“We are thrilled to have contributed funding to the latest research coming out of the University of Leeds. We have been disappointed by a lack of forward movement towards finding a cure for glioblastoma over the last twenty years and this research carried out by Dr Heiko Wurdak’s team is a positive step in the right direction.”

To find out more about the research, visit the University of Leeds website.

photo credit: Stem Cells and Brain Tumour Group, University of Leeds