Full Steam Ahead: Promising Research Results and New Funding for DIPG

As we enter 2021, things are looking promising for the research side of DIPG (diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma)! In particular, there have been discoveries at the University of Michigan using mice models that could lead to a new treatment.  Researchers also received a large grant to fund their DIPG project in Switzerland and Norway.  We look forward to hearing progress updates from both of these facilities.

Mouse Model Research

At the University of Michigan, there has been an exciting discovery from DIPG researchers. The research team used 2 mouse models to show that their new treatment considerably extended lifespan. The scientists used metabolic drugs to interrupt 2 energy-production pathways within cancer cells.  These pathways are affected by a cancer-causing mutation in DIPG and similar tumors. This mutation originates in a part of the DNA called the histones and causes issues with the energy pathways. When both pathways are targeted simultaneously with these drugs, there is an increase in survival by 60% in mice! The drugs are also able to penetrate the blood brain barrier, making them more effective against this brainstem tumor. This is a promising discovery that could result in a new DIPG treatment once it is developed into a clinical trial for patients.

“Integrated metabolic and epigenomic reprograming by H3K27M mutations in diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas,” Cancer Cell. DOI: 10.1016/j.ccell.2020.07.008

SNSF Sinergia grant

The Swiss National Science Foundation has awarded the Sinergia Grant to a group of researchers in Switzerland and Norway.  The purpose of the grant is to develop treatment for children with particularly aggressive brain tumors. The two targeted types of tumors will be DMG (diffuse midline glioma) and DIPG (diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma).  The organizations involved include the DMG/DIPG Center Zurich, University Children’s Hospital, the ETH Zurich and the Centre for Molecular Medicine Norway. The gift of  3.1 million CHF (about 3.5 million USD) will support a multidisciplinary effort that is hoping to change the face of DIPG/DMG treatment.  Their approach will be a combination of genomic/epigenomic sequencing, testing approved drugs for anticancer activity, and the development of a minimally invasive brain network measurement technology. This multifaceted approach will combine many promising strategies to create a treatment plan for these brain tumors! The DIPG community cannot wait to hear about the results of this research in the coming months.

Henderson, R. B. (2021, January 08). International consortium awarded SNSF Sinergia grant to improve treatment for pediatric brain tumors. Retrieved January 11, 2021, from https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210107/International-consortium-awarded-SNSF-Sinergia-grant-to-improve-treatment-for-pediatric-brain-tumors.aspx

Concluding Thoughts

It can be hard to follow DIPG news, because there are often articles about families losing their child to this terrible disease. When there are articles about successful research and future plans, these provide the hope we need to keep fighting for a cure. We are incredibly thankful for the healthcare professionals who are dedicating their time and effort to finding successful treatments. Sometimes, despite these people and their research, they do not receive the funding they need to carry out their ideas. It is organizations such as the Swiss National Science Foundation who choose DIPG as an important cause and provide essential funding! You can also contribute to the cause and research by donating at the link below.


By Grace Ison

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