Targeting brain tumours

Treating brain cancer is very complex and challenging. Treatment must target cancer tissue without damaging surrounding non-cancer tissue. Another challenge is to determine if the new drug is delivered to the tumour.

UQ researcher Dr Gary Cowin at the Centre for Advanced Imaging knows all too well how difficult these challenges can be.

“The blood-brain barrier is designed to keep foreign chemical drugs out of the brain,” he says.

“A perfect drug for killing cancer cells may be useless as a treatment if it cannot get into the tumour, which is where our use of UQ infrastructure comes into play.

“For example, we used ANFF-Q’s capabilities for characterisation of nanoparticles to assess and review the delivery of the therapeutic nanomedicine payload, and subsequently National Imaging Facility Queensland’s MR-PET testing allowed measurement of the blood-brain barrier integrity and PET – labelled drug delivery at the same time.

“Dynamic MRI shows bright regions due to increased uptake of Gadolinium in the tumour and surrounding regions, and the green shows the PET uptake of a new drug targeting the tumour. This makes assessing the effectiveness of new drugs much easier.”

Infrastructure located at UQ Capabilities
Australian National Fabrication Facility–Queensland Synthesis of novel probes for diagnostics and treatment
Centre for Advanced Imaging Imaging, metabolomics, NMR structural elucidation, free radical detection
Herston Imaging Research Facility Human imaging, PET radiotracer development
National Imaging Facility – Queensland node Imaging, probe development, radioactive PET tracers
Research Computing Centre Data management, analysis, visualisation and data sharing
TetraQ Preclinical GLP-accredited animal trials and first in human clinical studies
UQ Biological Resources Animal management, models and manipulation