How are brain tumours treated?

Although major therapeutic advances have been made in other cancers over the last 10 years, the same cannot be said of brain tumours. However, advances in our understanding of biological mechanisms and in the molecular characterisation of tumours are opening up very promising avenues.
Open / close summary


When it comes to chemotherapy, which may be combined with surgery or radiotherapy, clinicians come up against a recurring problem in neurological and psychiatric diseases: the blood-brain barrier. The role of this cellular barrier, which surrounds the brain and spinal cord, is to protect the brain from any potentially dangerous agent, acting as a filter to limit the entry of cells, viruses and bacteria, as well as molecules such as drugs.

A major challenge in the treatment of brain tumours is therefore to get drugs into the brain that target only the cancer cells and are non-toxic to the tumour’s surrounding cells.


At the Brain Institute

Maïté VERRAULT from the team led by Prof Marc SANSON and Dr Emmanuelle HUILLARD is coordinating the GLIOTEX project, the aim of which is to test the efficacy of treatments already on the market and prescribed for other diseases on tumour cells derived from patients’ brain tumours, as well as new molecules for therapeutic purposes.

This project will use experimental models to identify the most promising treatments before offering them to patients in therapeutic trials.

Dactinomycin, a treatment used in other cancers, is currently being tested at the Institut du Cerveau – ICM for its efficacy in glioblastoma. While the effect of this molecule on tumour cells has now been proven in vitro in the laboratory, we now need to increase the lifespan of this drug in the body and, above all, facilitate its entry into the brain via the blood-brain barrier. This project is the subject of a collaboration with the start-up Carthera, incubated within the iPEPS of the Paris Brain Institute.Paris Brain Institute

The carthera start-up, at the Paris Brain Institute, has developed the “SonoCloud” device in collaboration with the neurosurgery group (Pr Alexandre CARPENTIER, coordinator of the neurosurgery iCRIN at the Paris Brain Institute) and the neuro-oncology group (Pr Ahmed IDBAIH, coordinator of the neuro-oncology iCRIN at the Paris Brain Institute) at the Pitié Salpetrière hospital. This device temporarily permeabilises the blood-brain barrier by emitting ultrasound. This device allows drugs to enter the brain, making treatment more effective.