Generously funded by DUNN with Cancer Brain Tumour Research Fund
Lennart van Winden: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University Health Network, Toronto, ON
Supervisor: Phedias Diamandis, Neuropathologist, University Health Network
Project Title: “Dynamic and niche-specific mapping of the glioblastoma secretome”
Description of Project:
Glioblastoma is the most prevalent and aggressive type of brain cancer, causing death in the majority of patients within a year and a half. At early stages of the disease, glioblastoma infiltrate surrounding brain tissue, making treatment challenging. It is believed that the biological processes leading to invasion are partially driven by signals and proteins secreted by tumor cells. However, traditional laboratory models of cancer, which grow tumor cells in isolation, have limitations in studying secreted proteins as they do not simulate relevant tumor-brain interactions. Thus, there is an urgent need for alternative approaches to investigate the collection of secreted proteins (the “secretome”) of glioblastoma.
Advanced culture systems allow scientists to model crucial aspects of glioblastoma biology, such as low oxygen (hypoxia) and brain infiltration. By modeling these microenvironments, scientists can now better simulate the interactions of cancer cells within neural tissue and monitor the secreted signals that are critical for these communications. Through the analysis of tumor secretions in opportunistic tumor regions of clinical samples and controlled culture conditions, this project aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of the glioblastoma secretome and gain new insights and treatment strategies for this devastating cancer.
Impact of receiving this award:
Receiving the prestigious DUNN with Cancer Brain Tumour Research Fellowship is an exceptional honor and a pivotal moment in my academic and professional journey. This fellowship provides a remarkable opportunity to delve into the complexities of glioblastoma (GBM), a highly challenging and invasive form of brain cancer. GBM’s elusive nature stems from its unique ability to infiltrate normal brain tissue and resist conventional treatments. To unravel the mechanisms behind this aggressiveness, I aim to explore the intricate world of the GBM secretome—the intricate network of signals and proteins secreted by tumor cells to foster growth and invasion.
Through the DUNN with Cancer fellowship’s generous support, I will be able to employ state-of-the-art techniques such as advanced culture systems like organoids and low oxygen chambers, alongside cutting-edge technologies, such mass spectrometry-based protein-based profiling and single-cell RNA sequencing data. By shedding light on the auto- and paracrine signaling patterns within GBM, I hope to unveil novel therapeutic avenues for this devastating disease.
I am profoundly grateful to DUNN with Cancer for their visionary donation that has made this fellowship possible. With this fellowship, I am driven to deepen our comprehension of GBM and drive tangible improvements in patient outcomes.