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Can we improve immunotherapy?

Can we improve immunotherapy?

Little Princess Trust Research Project of the Month

Brain tumours are the second most common type of childhood cancer.

There are lots of different types of brain tumours, which are all treated differently. Diffuse midline gliomas (DMGs) are a particularly difficult to treat type of brain tumour which are often incurable.

Advances in immunotherapy that have helped treat other cancers, like leukaemia and
neuroblastoma, haven’t worked for DMGs. This is partly because the immunotherapy antibodies
can’t get into the brain.

Dr Sergey Piletsky, pictured above, wants to make immunotherapy work for DMGs. Working at the University of Leicester, his team are creating ‘synthetic antibodies’ which are enhanced to overcome the
difficulties in reaching and treating DMG tumours.

The Little Princess Trust is committed to funding childhood cancer research.

The synthetic antibodies are tiny molecules that can bind to cancer cells. Sergey plans to load them
with chemotherapy medicines so that when the synthetic antibody binds to a cancer cell, the
medicine is released exactly where it is needed.

Not only will this mean that the cancer receives as much medicine as possible, but it will also reduce the effects of chemotherapy on healthy brain cells.

This Little Princess Trust-funded project will help to develop these antibodies so that they can target
cancer cells.

The researchers will attach microscopic fluorescent markers to the antibodies so they can monitor whether the synthetic antibodies are binding to and entering the cancer cells.

The next step will be to find out whether the antibodies are effective at treating DMG, and check that they can enter the brain without problems.

Sergey hopes that this work will lead to a new treatment option for children with DMG.

You can read more about this project here.

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The MBE for voluntary groups was awarded to The Little Princess Trust by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.