Research we funded: a novel serial biopsy technique

The Ethan Davies Scholarship for Brain Cancer Research, which preceded Ethan's Fellowship, was established in 2012 with the aim of supporting paediatric brain cancer research in the Telethon Kids Institute's Brain Tumour Laboratory by trainee neurosurgeons. The Scholarship aimed to create a program of ongoing, unique collaborations between neurosurgeons and clinicians, each group contributing their own specific skill-sets and perspectives to the cause.

Dr Sasha Rogers (far right) with Ethan and family.

Dr Sasha Rogers (far right) with Ethan and family.

An article published earlier this year in PLOS ONE - "A novel technique of serial biopsy in mouse brain tumour models"¹ - reports on research undertaken by Dr Sasha Rogers with the support of Ethan's Scholarship. Dr Rogers was awarded the Scholarship in 2013. The article is co-authored by a number of other researchers at the Telethon Kids Institute, including Dr Nick Gottardo and Dr Raelene Endersby, Co-Heads of Brain Tumour Research.

Dr Rogers' surgical skills allowed Telethon Kids Institute researchers to evaluate the response of mice with brain tumours to chemotherapy drugs by taking and evaluating multiple biopsies, with minimal side-effects. The technique has the potential to increase the speed with which candidate anti-cancer drugs areevaluated and introduced via clinical trials.

With the trend in the clinic moving towards target-specific chemotherapy, it first needs to be determined which of these agents has potential to be therapeutically beneficial and define the characteristics of tumours that are likely to respond to treatment. The serial biopsy method described here for preclinical brain tumour models will help achieve this goal. The ability to obtain serial tissue samples during the treatment phase will enable more accurate and efficient preclinical assessment of drugs, facilitating a more rapid translation to brain tumour clinical trials.

¹ Rogers S, Hii H, Huang J, Ancliffe M, Gottardo NG, Dallas P, et al. (2017) A novel technique of serial biopsy in mouse brain tumour models. PLoS ONE 12(4): e0175169.

Shannon Davies