Tuesday, 16 July 2019
Researchers at the University of Nottingham have discovered that repurposing a heart drug could significantly increase the survival rate for children with ependymoma – a type of brain tumour.
The findings, published in Scientific Reports and led by experts in the University’s Schools of Medicine and Life Sciences, suggest that co-treatment with a drug normally used to treat cardiac hypertrophy can overcome chemotherapy resistance and increase survival in over a third of ependymoma patients.
Ependymoma are the second most common malignant brain tumours in children. They can occur across all age groups, but the outcome for children is lower than in their adult counterpart. The poorest survival is seen in infants, with the five year prognosis at just 42-55%.
The use of chemotherapy in children with ependymomas has had variable levels of success, leading to the frequent belief that ependymomas are chemoresistant tumours, since over half of tumours cannot be cured by chemotherapy alone.
The study was led by Dr Beth Coyle from the University of Nottingham’s School of Medicine and Dr Ian Kerr from the School of Life Sciences. The PhD student who undertook the research, Durgagauri Sabnis, was a recipient of a University of Nottingham Vice Chancellor’s Research Excellence Scholarship and the British Federation of Women Graduates (BFWG) foundation grant.
We are hopeful that by combining this repurposed drug with current treatments we can give new hope for long term survival to patients with these devastating brain tumours”.
In this study the authors set out to determine the nature of this chemoresistance. They show that, in patients treated with chemotherapy alone, the presence of a chemotherapy drug-pumping protein called ABCB1 was associated with a significantly poorer outcome.
Tumours that expressed ABCB1 were less likely to respond to chemotherapy and more likely to be locally invasive.
The authors then used a heart drug to inhibit ABCB1 function in cells taken from patient’s tumours. The heart drug was able to stop ABCB1 pumping chemotherapy drugs out of the tumour cells making them more sensitive to chemotherapy and less able to migrate.
ABCB1 is expressed in over one third of patient’s tumours, all of whom could potentially benefit from repurposing of this heart drug in future clinical trials.
A full copy of the report – ‘A role for ABCB1 in prognosis, invasion and drug resistance in ependymoma’ - can be found here.
More information is available from Dr Beth Coyle from the University of Nottingham’s School of Medicine at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our academics can now be interviewed for broadcast via our Media Hub, which offers a Quicklink fixed camera and ISDN line facilities at Jubilee campus. For further information please contact a member of the Press Office on +44 (0)115 951 5798, email
For up to the minute media alerts,
follow us on Twitter
Notes to editors:
The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. Ranked 103rd out of more than 1,000 institutions globally and 18th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2022, the University’s state-of-the-art facilities and inclusive and
disability sport provision is reflected in its crowning as The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021 Sports University of the Year. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to
REF 2014. We have
six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally. Alongside Nottingham Trent University, we lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, a pioneering collaboration which brings together the combined strength and civic missions of Nottingham’s two world-class universities and is working with local communities and partners to aid recovery and renewal following the COVID-19 pandemic.