Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most frequent primary brain cancer in adults. Treatment of this aggressive disease has not evolved much in recent years and prognosis remains dismal. Progress in molecular mapping methods makes it now possible to identify genetic alterations causing GBM at the whole-genome level. Dr Richer proposes to combine microscopic examination of tumour tissues with bioinformatic analysis of their associated genetic profiles as a strategy to find more specific biomarkers and therapeutic targets. These markers could also provide increased diagnostic acuity and improve clinical management. Infiltrating gliomas are thought to originate from stem cells, similar to those found in the developing brain. Dr Richer will thus study the growth mechanisms common to these stem cells in vitro.
More specifically, he will dissect the molecular mechanisms whereby gamma-aminobutyric acid, a signaling molecule of the developing and adult brain, limits brain tumour growth. Overall, Dr Richer's research programme could pave the way to novel treatment strategies for GBM patients.