Project Title: Genetic markers of clinical aggressiveness in glioblastoma and anaplastic oligodendroglioma

Grant Amount: $40,000

Institution: Kolling Institute of Medical Research

Investigator Team: Principal investigator Dr Johnathan Parkinson with supervisors Prof Bruce Robinson and Dr Kerrie McDonald

Grant Type: 2004 Scholarship

Years: 2004 - 2005

This project seeks initially to identify patients with histologically similar tumours (glioblastoma and anaplastic oligodendroglioma) and examine their outcomes. Molecular genetic techniques will then be used to identify reliable prognostic markers. These markers will then form a more accurate diagnostic and prognostic system, in addition to identifying potential targets for specific molecular therapies. 

This will enable clinicians to not only give greater prognostic detail to patients and their relatives, but to also enable specific adjunctive therapy depending on the genetic information gained from each tumour. The use of targeted molecular therapies for glioma is not too far away. 

Highlighted Quote: “Our project will study two types of aggressive brain tumours and using these new techniques we will be studying these tumours in extremely fine genetic detail. The information we obtain will help us further understand these tumours and therefore enable us to offer patients more optimal treatment depending on the exact makeup of their particular tumour.” - Dr Johnathan Parkinson


Final report (2005);

The aim of this project is to determine genetic differences between different types of astrocytoma, oligodendroglioma and mixed oligoastrocytoma that may not only provide a more reliable system of classification of these tumour than the current WHO guidelines, but may also give us some insight into the development of these tumours.  Over 30 glioma samples have been collected. We are also collaborating with the CSIRO on this project, and are employing their expertise in the statistical analysis of microarrays.

My role on this project has been predominantly to collect clinical information regarding these tumour samples. Information collected includes pathology, molecular studies such as loss of heterozygosity status, treatment received such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, demographic information such as age at presentation and outcome measures, especially survival. This information is vital as it provides a basis for subanalysis of microarray data. For example, tumours can be analysed on the basis of survival rather than tumour subtypes, which may lead to identification of genetic alterations that lead to an improvement or reduction in survival but are common to a number of tumour subtypes. This will enable us to identify molecular pathways that may become targets for directed therapies.