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Silvia Penuela – 2022 Feature Grant Recipient

Generously funded by DUNN with Cancer

Silvia PenuelaSilvia Penuela – Western University, London, ON

Project Title: “Inhibition of Panx1 as a novel target for glioblastoma multiforme”

Description of Project:

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common brain tumor in adults and the current standard of care is limited to surgery and chemotherapies that result in a median survival of 14 months, highlighting a need for new targets for treatment. We have observed that a novel channel protein called Pannexin 1 (Panx1) is highly expressed in glioblastoma cells. This channel protein is also expressed in other cancers such as melanomas, where a reduction in its levels or a blockage with specific inhibitors reverts the cells to a more normal phenotype and reduces tumour growth and metastasis. In this proposal, we will develop a high throughput in vivo system using chicken embryos and bioluminescence imaging to test the effect of Panx1 inhibitors on the growth and viability of established GBM cell lines and patient-derived GBM cells. The use of patient-derived cells is particularly important as these tumours mimic the heterogeneity and treatment response seen in humans. This new system will allow the screening of many compounds and treatments against GBM in a fast and cost-effective way. The imaging developed and lead compounds discovered in this model can then be moved into costlier rodent models of this deadly disease for preclinical testing of novel therapies for GBM patients.

What receiving this award means:

“This funding has enabled us to continue the promising research on targeting pannexin channels to stop communication between cells and reduce the growth and spread of glioblastoma tumours. Thanks to this funding we can support the technicians, graduate students, and expensive supplies we need to use in the lab to carry out this research. The additional donation allows us to start extending our studies into pre-clinical animal models to test the new drugs before we are ready to move onto clinical trials in humans in the future. We hope that our research will have a positive impact on generating discoveries that will lead to future treatments for glioblastoma patients.”

Midpoint Report- January 2024

“The grant we received from the Brain Tumour Foundation has been instrumental in helping us cover the initial research expenses and part of the salaries of one graduate student and one research technician in the lab. Thanks to this grant we were able to generate sufficient preliminary data to apply to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and recently obtained a Project Grant to continue our work in the next 5 years. With the funds received we were able to participate and present our work at the Banff conference on Signalling in Normal and Cancer Cells in 2023, and are preparing our first manuscript on the role of pannexin channels in glioblastoma multiforme for submission next month. We are very grateful for this funding that was the initial investment that we needed to explore pannexins as new treatment targets for brain tumour patients”.