New biobank valuable resource for brain tumour research


Researchers at IGP and SciLifeLab present in the most recent issue of the journal EBioMedicine a biobank with cell lines that can be used as a model of the brain tumour form glioblastoma. The biobank and its associated database with information about the cells make up a publicly available resource that can be used by brain tumour researchers around the world.

The development of new cancer drugs and therapies requires experimental models that are representative of the cancer type that is studied. Common models are cell lines, i.e. cells that under specific conditions can be cultivated for a long time. Presently many established cancer cell lines exist, including brain tumour cell lines, but for various reasons they are less valuable as models for the incurable brain tumour type glioblastoma. This is for instance because the culture conditions that are used don’t allow the properties of the original cancer cell to be maintained.

A group of researchers at IGP now present a new biobank resource with cell lines from glioblastoma. The biobank, called HGCC (for Human Glioblastoma Cell Culture), is publicly available for researchers and all information about the cell lines can be retrieved from a database linked to the biobank.

“The reason for glioblastoma being such a severe cancer form is that the tumours contain cancer stem cells that are resistant to therapy and that can subsequently start growing again, resulting in a relapse of the tumour. We have cultured such cancer stem cells and they make up the cell lines in the biobank”, says Lene Uhrbom, one of the principal investigators behind the study.

The biobank contains 48 different cell lines that have been thoroughly characterised by the researchers. They have for instance shown that the cell lines retain essentially the same features as the cells in the original tumour. They have also grouped the cell lines into the four subtypes, based on molecular and genetic characteristics, that are commonly used for glioblastoma.

“Another great advantage of our biobank is that we can link every cell line to the patient from whom the cells were originally taken. This way we were able to see a correlation between one of the subtypes and a considerably shorter survival for the patients”, says Lene Uhrbom.

The researchers behind the study hope that HGCC will become a well-used resource that will accelerate the development of more efficient therapies for patients with glioblastoma. The cell lines serve as a reliable model of glioblastoma and the associated database is searchable and contains all available information about the cells, e.g. genetic alterations, subtype and clinical data on the patients.

“Several of the cell lines have already been used in different projects, both at IGP and by other researchers around the world. One application that we foresee is comparative testing of potential new drugs”, says Lene Uhrbom.

The establishment of HGCC is part of a larger effort at IGP on primary malignant brain tumours. It is also linked to the strategic research programme U-CAN, in which samples and clinical data from cancer patients are collected and organised for research purposes.

The results have been published on-line in the journal EBioMedicine. The study was performed in collaboration between several research groups at IGP and led by Karin Forsberg Nilsson, Sven Nelander, Lene Uhrbom and Bengt Westermark.

More information:
Article in EBioMedicine
HGCC biobank
Karin Forsberg Nilsson’s research
Sven Nelander’s research
Lene Uhrbom’s research
Bengt Westermark’s research