Researcher in laboratory

Paediatric Nervous System Tumours

Medulloblastoma and neuroblastoma account for >30% of childhood cancer deaths and are major challenges in the management of children with cancer. Our team of researchers aim to understand the molecular mechanisms of tumour development by using genomic, cell biology and model-system approaches. This research will lead to new personalised or patient-centred therapies with increased survival and lower therapy-associated late effects.

At all levels, our research goals are supported by close integration with National and International clinical networks and engagement in local, National and International research collaborations.

Research activities in paediatric nervous system tumours include:

The clinical, histological and molecular characterisation of medulloblastoma

The clinical, histological and molecular characterisation of medulloblastoma represents an important area of research to improve disease subclassification and the identification of genes critical to disease development. There has been a discovery of molecular medulloblastoma subgroups with distinct clinical features and outcomes. Indeed, biological and histological markers have been identified and validated for risk-stratification of medulloblastoma patients.

This research will be used to facilitate patient stratification in pan-European clinical trials, and early-phase clinical trials of new therapeutic strategies.

Neuroblastoma Research

Four interrelated themes:

  • The roles of keyoncogenes and tumour suppressor genes (i.e. the p53 tumour suppressor gene and the MYCN oncogene). The frequency of p53 abnormalities found in neuroblastomas have lead to the exploration of p53-independent and targeted therapies
  • The mechanisms of action and therapeutic development of retinoids – group. How different retinoic acid receptors contribute to the distinct responses observed in neuroblastoma cells to retinoids
  • The pharmacology of chemotherapeutic agents and retinoic acid. Progression of European-wide clinical pharmacology studies investigating the optimisation of 13-cis-retinoic acid dosing in neuroblastoma patients, which have lead to the dose individualisation study in neuroblastoma patients
  • Identifying the biological effects of unbalanced 17q gain in neuroblastoma