New Treatment for Aggressive Brain Tumors in Children

10/08/2018

RWTH professor Twan Lammers is coordinating the international project, which is being funded by the EU with 1.1 million euros.

The EU is providing 1.1 million euros of funding to the project NSC4DIPG or NanoSonoChemotherapy for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. The project's objective is to develop a new treatment method for children with the highly aggressive and fatal DIPG brain tumor. Professor Twan Lammers from the RWTH Aachen Nanomedicine and Theranostics Group is the lead coordinator of the project, collaborating with Dutch and Norwegian hospitals and institutes as well as a German firm.

Hundreds of children die from DIPG in Europe annually. The tumor grows in a scattered manner on the brain stem, which controls an individual's breathing among other important functions. This scattering makes it impossible to remove the tumor through an operation. Chemotherapy is also ineffective as an intact blood-brain barrier prevents the transport of agents and agent carriers in to the tumor. The treatment methods available until now could not ensure effective results.

Methods to Delay Tumor Growth

In the NSC4DIPG project, ultrasound will be used to locally limit the blood-brain barrier, opening it for a short period. This creates a window for chemotherapeutics to collect as nanoagents. This method aims to delay the tumor's growth. This theory has already been successfully applied in Canada since 2015 in clinical phase 1 studies.

The project combines this approach with nanomedicine, as the side effects are reduced when nano-agent carriers are loaded with the chemotherapeutics. The international and interdisciplinary collaboration covers all of the steps ranging from development to implementation of the approach. According to Lammers, the project contributes to the further development of treatments in ultrasound applications and nanomedicine for gravely ill children. A practical application will first be realized in the next five to ten years.