Usher Institute

Pioneering hope for malignant glioma, a deadly brain cancer

Usher Institute leads on implementation of science and cost assessment of new GLIOMATCH platform.

The World Health Organisation reveals a sombre reality: cancer ranks as the world’s second-leading cause of death. Without intervention, the European Cancer Information System predicts that Europe alone will see a rise in diagnosed cases from 2.7 million to 3.24 million yearly by 2040. Cancer poses a tremendous strain on individuals, families, communities and healthcare systems. Malignant gliomas, or highly aggressive brain tumours, take centre stage in this mounting crisis. With under 2% of long-term survivors, their grip on patients and their families is nothing short of devastating.

GLIOMATCH is set to rewrite this grim narrative by pioneering targeted brain cancer treatment. In alignment with Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, it tackles the EU Cancer Mission's four-pronged assignment: understanding cancer, prevention and early detection, diagnosis and treatment, and quality of life for patients and their families.

Empowering tailored treatments for brain cancer

Challenges in reducing brain cancer mortality persist due to patient variability and the complex, ever-changing nature of each tumour. Immunotherapy shows promise, albeit selectively, as biomarkers remain scarce, hampering patient identification. Elusive tracking of treatment efficacy adds to the bleak scenario. Presently, nearly 20% of adult Glioblastoma (GBM) and paediatric high-grade glioma (pHGG) patients may benefit from treatment tailored to the characteristics of their tumour. In the absence of suitable biomarkers, many receive sub-optimal or random immunotherapy applications.

The GLIOMATCH team seeks change. It will develop a biomarker framework, combining deep tissue profiling and non-invasive MRI imaging and empowering clinical professionals to precisely tailor and interpret treatments for GBM/pHGG patients. This offers hope for improved outcomes.

Photo of brain by Milad Fakurian on Unsplash

Breaking two decades of stalemate with three key innovations

For over two decades, the standard of care for GBM and pHGG treatment has remained unaltered. Over five years, GLIOMATCH plans to shatter the status quo with three pivotal innovations: an MRI Radio-Multiomics Digital Hub, a state-of-the-art spatio-temporal pathological model, and an extensive data lake. By aligning across eight European clinical centres, the project’s clinical trials will analyse the largest cohort of immuno-oncology treated GBM/pHGG patients, unlocking invaluable insights, and proposing novel treatment options. Extensive clinical trials will harness the power of data by integrating spatially resolved, multi-layered tissue maps with non-invasive MRI images, creating a cutting-edge MRI Radio-Multiomics Hub. With this hub, clinical professionals will be able to stratify patients, match therapies, and interpret treatment efficacy with unprecedented precision. Integration of its work into the Understanding Cancer Initiative (UNCAN) compatible data lake, will further enhance data-driven cancer therapy decision-making.

KU Leuven will lead the GLIOMATCH consortium uniting 14 partners from diverse disciplines, including clinical experts, medical practitioners, data scientists, and health economists. This alliance, bolstered by active patient involvement, is well-equipped to explore uncharted territories of brain cancer treatment and contribute to Europe’s holistic strategy of mitigating the adverse societal impact of the disease.

Usher Institute leading implementation science and cost assessment

Usher Institute's Kathrin Cresswell, Senior Lecturer, and Usher Affiliate Member, Peter Hall, Professor of Medical Oncology, are leading the implementation science and cost assessment of the GLIOMATCH platform. Assessing the value of the platform to patients and healthcare providers will be critical as a basis for adoption within diverse healthcare systems and help to inform system development and strategy. It will also help to ensure that the developed platform is acceptable to users and embedded effectively within their socio-organisational contexts of use.

Further resources

Data explorer | European Cancer Information System

EU Mission: Cancer | European Commission

GLIOMATCH – The malignant Glioma immuno-oncology matchmaker: towards data-driven precision medicine using spatially resolved radio-multiomics


Image credit: Milad Fakurian on Unsplash