Brain Cancer Canada To Fund Barrier Breaking Chemistry Research Targeting Glioblastoma
November 29, 2021
A pioneering approach led by Prof. Patrick Gunning at the University of Toronto, leveraging advanced medicinal chemistry to help develop potential treatments against Glioblastoma (GBM) and other high-grade gliomas (HGGs), has received a $100,000 grant from Brain Cancer Canada on Giving Tuesday. The research has identified an approach to potentially breaching barriers that are holding back effective brain cancer therapies. Brain Cancer Canada has made these funds available thanks to the generous support from its donors, including Scotia Wealth Management, Yamana Gold, and Hampton Securities.
Prof. Gunning and his team have developed a class of inhibitors that target a class of proteins called Histone Deacetylase 6 (HDAC6). Targeting HDAC6 with small molecules can help sensitize treatment-refractory HGG cells. These new inhibitors are unique, as they can efficiently cross the blood-brain barrier, a critical requirement in delivering medications to the brain. In addition, the inhibitors are selective, indicating they evade targeting other HDAC proteins and are likely less toxic.
“Our molecules offer exquisite selectivity, potency, and have demonstrated the potential to cross the blood-brain barrier, and we are excited to evaluate these molecules in advanced preclinical models of brain cancer,” said Patrick Gunning, Professor of Chemistry and Scientific Director, Centre for Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Toronto. “This funding is an important vote of confidence in innovative Canadian research, and we look forward to working closely with Brain Cancer Canada to potentially complement the treatment landscape.”
“This is the second time in as many months that we have been able to fund up-and-coming Canadian research through our all-volunteer organization,” said Angela Scalisi, Chair of Brain Cancer Canada. “We are supporting innovation targeting brain cancers that are ravaging the lives of approximately three thousand Canadians yearly. The outcome is almost always devastating for the life expectancy and quality of life of patients. Even with our current best standard of care, GBM patients typically pass away 15 to 18 months after diagnosis, an outcome that has not changed in almost two decades.”
“When we decide where to spend our donations, we tend to favour investing in promising early-stage research,” said Marc Peeters, Board Member at Brain Cancer Canada. “This type of research often builds on recent discoveries that have the potential for disruption but do not qualify to get funding from traditional sources. This is why our philanthropic support is so needed—we are bridging that gap with two recent grants, but there were many more viable candidates. I wish we, or others, were able to get all these projects started.”
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