Stopping the spread of brain cancer cells

Dr Xi Huang
Dr Xi Huang, CCS-funded researcher

Glioblastoma is a devastating cancer with a poor prognosis – even for patients who undergo surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation treatment, the median survival time with glioblastoma is only 15 to 16 months. While treatment can slow down or temporarily stop glioblastoma from growing, these brain tumours quickly evolve to resist these therapies – meaning it’s crucial to explore innovative new approaches.

Canadian Cancer Society (CCS)-funded researcher Dr Xi Huang and his team are developing a first-of-its-kind treatment for glioblastomas that disrupts how tumour cells transport ion molecules in and out of the cell – with the hope of effectively destroying glioblastoma cells while leaving healthy cells alone. They will then test a new experimental drug treatment that targets these ion channels.

“Almost all glioblastomas recur, which is universally fatal,” says Dr Huang. “By targeting an ion channel complex, we identified a way to treat chemotherapy-resistant glioblastoma.” 

If successful, the team will further develop this drug towards clinical trials in people with glioblastoma – saving lives and improving outcomes for people with this disease.