Single-cell sequencing of brain tumours

Sequencing lab entrance

Brain cancer kills more children in Australia than any other disease and more people under 40 than any other cancer. The worst type of brain cancer, GBM, is also the most common. Despite surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy, there is a high treatment resistance and recurrence with median survival of less than 15 months from diagnosis.  Intra and intercellular heterogeneity in GBM is thought to be at the root of therapeutic failure and the poor outcomes of numerous clinical trials. Previous investigations that have sought to characterise GBM through genomic and transcriptomic methods have focused on profiling them as bulk tissue. While these studies have provided critical information on recurrent driver mutations and genomic rearrangements, bulk-profiling methods potentially mask the diversity of cells within each tumour. Single-cell (RNA and DNA) sequencing and spatial transcriptomics approaches present a unique opportunity to examine in detail the intricate ecosystem of diverse malignant cells driving GBM biology and treatment failure.

This research collaboration aims to generate high-quality single-cell data from GBM patients collected from the Charlie Teo Foundation Brain Tumour Bank. Data generated from this work will be used to predict GBM diagnosis, prognosis and treatment options.

In line with the Charlie Teo Foundation’s value of openness, where possible, research findings and data will be made openly available for other researchers to learn and build upon.     

The team has successfully generated single-cell (RNA and DNA) sequencing and spatial transcriptomics on over 80 brain tumour tissue samples collected by the Charlie Teo Foundation Brain Tumour Bank. The team are now deciphering the insights as to how the single-cell genomic and transcriptomic data correlate to the clinical outcomes seen in these GBM patients.