Glioma is the most common and aggressive tumour of the brain and its most malignant form, glioblastoma multiforme, is nowadays virtually not curable. Very little is known about glioma genesis and progression at the molecular level and not much progress has been achieved in the treatment of this disease during the last years. The understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in the biology of glioma is essential for the development of successful and rational therapeutic strategies. Our project aims to: 1- Study the role of the TGF-beta, Shh, Notch, and Wnt signal transduction pathways in glioma. These pathways have been implicated in glioma but still not much is known about their specific mechanisms of action. 2- Study of a cell population within the tumour mass that has stem-cell-like characteristics, the glioma stem cells, and how the four mentioned pathways regulate their biology. 3- Study the role of a transcription factor, FoxG1, that has an important oncogenic role in some gliomas and that it is regulated by the four mentioned pathways interconnecting some of them. Our approach will be based on a tight collaboration with clinical researchers of our hospital and the study of patient-derived tumours. We will analyse human biopsies, generate primary cultures of human tumour cells, isolate the stem-cell-like population of patient-derived gliomas and generate mouse models for glioma based on the orthotopical inoculation of human glioma stem cells in the mouse brain to generate tumours with the same characteristics as the original human tumour. In addition, we will also study genetically modified mouse models and established cell lines. We expect that our results will help understand the biology of glioma and cancer, and we aspire to translate our discoveries to a more clinical ambit identifying molecular markers of diagnosis and prognosis, markers of response to therapies, and unveil new therapeutic targets against this deadly disease.
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Funding SchemeERC-SG - ERC Starting Grant