Brain metastases (BM), or secondary brain tumours, are the most prevalent brain lesions in adults and are ten times more common than primary brain tumours. Primary lung (~50%), breast (20%), and melanoma cancers are the three most common sources of BM. Notwithstanding the origin, once diagnosed, BM are associated with a mortality rate of 90%, with a median survival of merely weeks in respite patients and approximately six months in those being treated by combination therapy. Despite being a leading cause of cancer mortality in adults, BM is gravely understudied in part due to inadequate clinically relevant experimental models. Therefore, the need for novel experimental approaches to study BM cannot be overemphasized and is crucial to enable the development of novel treatment options that can target this fatal condition.
We recently characterized a rare population of tumour-initiating cells from patient BM samples, which we have termed BM-initiating cells or BMICs. Using these BMICs, we have successfully generated preclinical patient-derived xenograft (PDX) mouse models of brain metastases, allowing us to perform functional genomics studies to identify drivers of pre-metastatic and fully metastatic tumour cell states. By characterizing unique signatures which differentiate between the pre-metastatic and metastatic states, we hope to identify druggable targets paired with drug discovery efforts to uncover novel translational therapies which can potentially prevent and/or eradicate brain metastasis.
Dr. Sheila Singh | Pediatric Neurosurgeon, McMaster Children’s Hospital | Principal Investigator, McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute
Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Learning and Discovery, Room 5027 | McMaster University | 1280 Main Street West | Hamilton, Ontario L8S4K1
Dr. Sheila Singh | Pediatric Neurosurgeon, McMaster Children’s Hospital | Principal Investigator, McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute | Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Learning and Discovery, Room 5027 | McMaster University | 1280 Main Street West | Hamilton, Ontario L8S4K1