Developing a blood test for detecting recurrence of brain tumours

Developing a blood test
for detecting recurrence of brain tumours

Glioma Project – Serum Micro-RNA as a Biomarker for Brain Cancer

The researchers: Professor Andrew Kaye and Dr Andrew Morokoff, Royal Melbourne Hospital and Professor Tali Siegal, Rabin Medical Center, Tel Aviv

Prof Kaye is a world-renowned surgeon for gliomas. Prof Siegal is a neurosurgeon who pioneered the study of circulating tumour-specific DNA and found that this DNA as well as using other markers in the blood, could provide a highly sensitive and specific test to measure if a treatment will be effective in reducing growth of a glioma.

The aim of this project is to develop a blood test to predict recurrence of brain cancer (glioma) after surgical excision.

This collaborative brain tumour research team based in Melbourne. Prof Siegal has been involved in multiple discussions about the science and planning aspects of this project from the start of the project. Profs Kaye and Segal recently published a review article and a meta-analysis of serum miRNA in glioma, to date, the only published report demonstrating the potential use of serum miRNA in post-operative monitoring glioma.

The research

  • RMH recruited a ‘discovery’ cohort of 91 glioma patients (44 GBM and 47 LGG) and 20 healthy controls.
  • Blood samples preoperatively and then at multiple post-operative timepoints were taken, usually at the time of each follow up MRI scan.
  • Serum total RNA was isolated and miRNA profile determined with our Nanostring® (miRNAv.3) next-generation sequencing platform technology

The results showed that serum miRNA levels were able to clearly separate tumour and healthy controls, suggesting that serum miRNA is able to provide a specific biological signal related to the presence of tumour. The researchers are planning a large prospective cohort trial over 3 years to validate the findings.