Dr. Ugljesa Djuric, Richard Motyka Brain Tumour Research Fellow

Dr. Ugljesa Djuric, Richard Motyka Brain Tumour Research Fellow
Project: "Systematic proteomic profiling and subclassification of Glioblastoma”

Location: University Health Network

Generously funded by the Richard Motyka Brain Tumour Research Fellowship

About the project:

Glioblastoma (GBM) is a brain tumour with a patient median survival period of 15 months, a clinical outcome that has remained unchanged over the last 40 years. Recent molecular profiling efforts have established that DNA mutations in a gene called IDH1/2 result in improved patient survivals beyond 5 years. However, such DNA mutations only represent a minority of GBM patients (5-10%) and thus novel molecular approaches are needed to further subclassify and provide more superior prognostic and therapeutic approaches. I will use state of the art mass spectrometry-based global proteomic analysis to define GBM subgroups based on their protein make-up. Analysis of epidemiologically defined group of 200 primary GBM samples of varying patient outcomes, from short to long term survivors, will be used to define proteomic diagnostic predictors of patient survival, in tumours lacking definitive genomic mutation classifications. Furthermore, identification of proteomic signatures with more refined GBM classifications will establish a platform for assessing pharmacologic effectiveness on proliferation and cancer stem cell identities of tissue culture models of GBM. Collectively, our research proposal aims to yield novel molecular predictors of patient outcomes that offer an avenue for more patient-specific pharmacological interventions and ultimately result in improved GBM patient treatment.

Read what being awarded this Fellowship means to Ugljesa:

"Being awarded the Richard Motyka Brain Tumour Research Fellowship means that I can continue to pursue my passionate career of finding better treatment options for glioblastoma brain tumour patients. 

Although genomics-based breakthroughs have made moderate impacts on improving patient diagnosis, overall glioblastoma survival rates have remained stagnant over the last twenty years.

With the generous support of this fellowship I can focus on utilizing the newest available proteomics technologies to further understand this devastating cancer and improve patient outcomes as a result. Indeed, mass spectrometry-based proteomic efforts have shown promise in other tumour types as a superior profiling method to understand abnormal tumour-related biological pathways. Translating this technology has potential in further subdividing glioblastoma tumours into distinct subtypes and thus could uncover previously unrecognizable treatment approaches. 

As a medical researcher, I always strive to generate results that can positively affect patient outcomes and I am tremendously grateful for the generosity of the Motyka family and the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for their continued support of the brain tumour research field". 

From the first year report

It is my pleasure to provide my progress report for the Richard Motyka Research Fellowship that I received from Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada in July, 2017. In my project proposal “Systematic proteomic profiling and sub-classification of glioblastoma” I set out to use state of the art mass spectrometry (MS) proteomic analysis of clinically and molecularly annotated glioma cohorts to define novel molecular predictors of either prognostic or therapeutic relevance. The conception of this project was based on similar experimental approaches I used to spatiotemporally define proteomic landscapes of human fetal brain development1. In that study I optimized specialized sample preparation techniques to make use of plentiful archival tissue material stored in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) blocks. I established that sectioning of this material enables us to by macro-dissect and isolate different cellular layers of the brain to resolve intra-tissue heterogeneity issues for molecular profiling. With the emergence of mass spectrometry approaches to reliably quantitate global proteomic profiles, I decided to translate my developed tools to sub-classification of glioblastomas (GBMs). Read the full report...

Read more about Richard Motyka the man who inspired and gave to launch this important research program.
Help build Canada's brain tumour research community by funding a Brain Tumour Research Fellowship. Contact us at 1-800-265-5106, ext. 229 or at sfelliott@braintumour.ca

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For more information about brain tumour research funding and programs, please contact:

Susan Ruypers
Research Program Specialist
1-800-265-5106 ext 240

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