Better drugs are needed
There is a pressing need to design drugs that have less harmful side effects than the current treatments available for cancer. This is especially important for the treatment of childhood tumours where treatment can cause very serious, often permanent side effects.
With the advances made in sequencing, researchers are now able to identify certain cancer types that can be treated with highly targeted drugs. These offer better outcomes and less damage to the normal, healthy tissues of the body.
Targeting vulnerabilities in tumour cells
Work within the Cancer Genetics Laboratory at the University of Otago is focusing on a medulloblastomas that are missing a protein called E-cadherin which acts like velcro, holding cells in their correct positions.
Several drugs and drug targets have been identified which could be exploited as new treatment approaches for these kinds of medulloblastoma. The goal of the research is to identify and/or develop drugs which will only target cells with abnormal E-cadherin, leaving the normal cells unaffected.