Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

New hope for treating brain cancer

Brain metastases (secondary tumours shed by a cancer elsewhere in the body and transported to the brain) occur in up to 35 % of cancer patients. Metastases in the brain are very difficult to treat due to the blood brain barrier, and afflicted patients usually survive less than two years.
New hope for treating brain cancer
To address this dire situation, the EU-funded CELL THERAPY (Harnessing of hematopoietic stem cells for targeting of brain metastases) initiative aimed to provide a proof-of-concept for targeted drug delivery to brain metastases using hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs).

In this approach, HSCs would be engineered to express anticancer drugs, antibodies or cytokines to treat metastases. The system relies on the natural ability of stem cells to 'home in' on specific locations in the body.

Using cells derived from HSCs engineered to express a fluorescent protein rather than an anticancer drug, researchers showed that this system is feasible. In both mouse and human tests, the cells infiltrated both established and nascent metastases without affecting the healthy brain tissue.

Because HSCs are also distributed to the spleen and bone marrow, researchers next developed a system to express the therapeutic agent only in brain cells. They identified two promoter molecules that only switched on in the brain, ensuring that the drug is specifically targeted to brain tumour cells.

CELL THERAPY has demonstrated a safe, effective and targeted method to treat brain metastases for the first time. This proof-of-concept study offers hope for the future of brain cancer treatment.

Related information


Cancer, brain metastases, blood brain barrier, CELL THERAPY, targeted drug delivery, hematopoietic stem cells
Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top