We are working on new drugs for glioma patients: Wprost talks about Polish science for medicine

We are working on new drugs for glioma patients: Wprost talks about Polish science for medicine

What are the mechanisms of glioma formation, how to reprogram microglia and the immune system to fight cancer? In the series of Wprost interviews “Polish science for the development of medicine”, editor Krzysztof Michalski talks to prof. Bożena Kamińska-Kaczmarek from the Institute of Experimental Biology. Nencki PAN on the work of Polish scientists aimed at developing new drugs against gliomas.

Gliomas are brain tumors consisting of glial cells located in nervous tissue. They are characterized by high malignancy with a tendency to quickly spread into surrounding tissues. Every year, several hundred thousand people around the world develop gliomas; in Poland – every year there are approx. 3.5 thousand new cases.

Listen to the entire conversation between editor Krzysztof Michalski and prof. Bożena Kamińska-Kaczmarek:

These cancers are difficult to diagnose and very difficult to treat, resistant to chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Polish scientists and researchers from the Institute of Experimental Biology. Marceli Nencki PAN are working on understanding the mechanisms of glioma formation and improving their treatment.

Polish Nobel Prize

Prof. Bożena Kamińska-Kaczmarek, a specialist in molecular biology and neurobiology, is a pioneer of research on the impact of brain tumors on the local immune system. Her innovative research has contributed to the development of advanced therapies for the treatment of glioma and may be the basis for the creation of further therapies. In 2021, she received the Polish Science Foundation award, known as the “Polish Nobel Prize”, for discovering the mechanisms by which immune system cells support its development instead of destroying glioma.

Research by prof. Kamińska-Kaczmarek showed that immune cells that support the proper functioning of the central nervous system and initiate the body's immune response change their function under the influence of signals from the glioma. Instead of fighting cancer, they begin to support tumor growth while blocking the immune response. This discovery allowed, among others, to develop advanced therapies to fight glioma.

Gliomas in children

Prof. Kamińska-Kaczmarek has recently become a co-coordinator of the European HIT-GLIO project, which recently received a grant from the HORIZON Health program. The project, coordinated by the Nencki Institute, achieved first place on the ranking list of the European Commission and was qualified for financing as 1 of 4 applications. The project budget of EUR 11.14 million is intended to find new ways of treating high-grade gliomas developing in infants and children. – We proposed a coherent and consistent vision of the approach to research on the mechanisms of glioma formation, and at the same time several completely new strategies that could improve treatment. This includes: modern therapies with peptides introduced into the brain, improving radiotherapy so that it targets the tumor to a greater extent, as well as cooperation with centers that deal with nanocarriers, because in the case of the treatment of gliomas, a huge problem is developing drugs that cross the blood-brain barrier. We also planned the participation of psychiatrists and psychologists in our study to check whether children with gliomas do not develop neurodevelopmental deficits: due to the tumor or its treatment, which is especially important in the case of children whose brains are developing. We want to develop strategies to minimize these side effects as much as possible, says Prof. Kamińska-Kaczmarek.

New methods of treating neurodegenerative diseases

Research on microglia may also contribute to the fight against neurodegenerative diseases, says Prof. Bożena Kamińska-Kaczmarek.

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