Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and aggressive type of brain cancer, remains a tumour-type with a dismal prognosis. GBM affects 3 out of every 100,000 people worldwide per year, representing 18,000 new patients in the United States and nearly 2,000 in Canada each year. Median overall survival is approximately 15 months from diagnosis.   

Although the GBM community has extensively worked together to improve the current outlook of GBM patients and their families, the tumour’s recurrence rate after treatment remains high, with nearly 90 percent of tumours recurring within two years. To date, therapies in recurrent GBM have not improved patients’ overall survival rate.

The main challenges in treating GBM are facilitating the movement of the therapy across the blood-brain barrier and being able to attack the tumour cells without being encumbered by the cancer’s natural resistance mechanisms. Solving these two issues will provide current patients with new treatment options.

Personalized medicine focuses on developing a deep understanding of the unique and different characteristics of each patient’s tumour and how tailored therapies work on them. Statistically, two out of three patients diagnosed with GBM will not respond to current therapies because their tumours have high levels of a DNA-repair enzyme called MGMT, which blocks the efficacy of current treatments and increases the probability of tumour recurrence. New therapies being studied attack GBM differently, allowing it to retain its anti-cancer activity for the majority of GBM patients with high expression of MGMT.

The development of new brain cancer therapies brings with them the opportunity for improved patient outcomes for the GBM and science community.