Ion channel (IC) proteins are known to be involved in different human diseases such as heart and brain disorders. There are many drugs that activate or inactivate ICs and they are used to treat patients with these diseases. However, less has been known about the role of ICs in cancer and no approved IC drugs are used to treat cancer.
Dr. Reimand and his team’s recent findings have shown that ICs are important in brain and other cancers, suggesting that IC drugs can be also used in cancer treatment. For this particular project the team will analyze all human ICs using genetic information from thousands of cancer patients with dozens of cancer types. They will focus on glioblastoma, an aggressive and currently incurable brain cancer. Their statistical approach will identify the most promising ICs that can be used for cancer treatment with existing drugs. Having identified candidate ICs, they will perform experiments using flies, mice, brain cancer cells and known IC drugs to understand the role of ICs in brain cancer and prove that IC drugs can be used for treatment. The overall objective of this project is to find the ICs that are most important in brain cancer and the IC drugs that can reduce brain tumour growth. This knowledge will rapidly enable clinical trials to study the use of IC drugs to treat cancer patients.