Research on Brain Cancer Epigenomics

EPIGENOMICS

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GALLO LAB

BRAIN CANCER

BRAIN CANCER
EPIGENOMICS

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Academic Affiliations

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We Are Designing New Ways to Turn Off Brain Cancers

The Gallo Lab is a highly interdisciplinary research group that aims to develop new treatments for brain cancers.

Our team consists of bioinformaticians, computational scientists, biochemists and molecular biologists.

We use single-cell genomics, bulk genomic technologies, clinical samples and patient-derived preclinical models to identify epigenomic vulnerabilities in brain cancer.

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The Gallo Laboratory Interests

Single-Cell Genomics and Epigenomics
Single-Cell Genomics and Epigenomics

Not all cells in a brain tumor are the same. For instance, some cells are resistant to therapy, whereas others are sensitive; some divide frequently and generate lots of other tumor cells, whereas others appear dormant.

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Brain Cancer 3D Genome
Brain Cancer 3D Genome

The function of a cell is determined by which genes are turned on or off. As an example, neurons and astrocytes in the brain turn on different sets of genes. The genome is organized in three-dimensional (3D) space inside the nucleus to enable some genes to be turned on while turning off other genes that are not needed in a given type of cell.

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Preclinical Studies
Preclinical Studies

We use clinical samples – usually surgical tumor resections – to grow cell lines in the lab. These cell lines allow us to model each patient’s disease, giving us a better understanding of how brain cancers behave in different patients. They also give us an opportunity to identify biological processes that are shared across patients and that could be exploited to design new treatments.

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Why Study
Cancer Epigenomes?

All cells in an organism have (largely) the same DNA sequence and the same genes. Each cell type needs to activate the appropriate set of genes to function properly. For instance, a skin cell turns on different sets of genes than a heart cell. Specialized proteins mark which genes should be turned on and which ones should be off in each cell type. The complex of all these marks and their effects on gene activity is the epigenome.

Brain cancers are populated by cells with different genomes and different epigenomes. We are particularly interested in the epigenomes of a population of cells called ‘cancer stem cells,’ which drive tumor growth, resistance to therapy and relapse. 

Our research has shown that – just like normal cells – cancer stem cells depend on their epigenomes to know what to do.

We are deciphering the cancer stem cell epigenome to determine (a) what the most important epigenomic features are for cancer stem cell function, and (b) to find ways to compromise these fundamental malignant epigenomic programs. Using our preclinical models, we hope to identify new potential therapeutic opportunities for the most aggressive and incurable brain cancers.

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Meet Marco Gallo

PhD in Medical Genetics

Dr. Marco Gallo's research into single-cell genomics has led to discoveries about the genetic mutations found in brain tumours. These findings are critical for developing precise, individualized treatments for adult and pediatric brain cancers.

Here's How You Can Help

Dr. Gallo leads an interdisciplinary team of scientists that perform genomics and experimental research using clinical tumor samples and patient-derived models.

Your help will sustain his efforts to uncover new ways of targeting cancer cells with effective treatments. This need is particularly urgent for glioblastoma patients. The current treatment for adults is ineffective in the medium to long term. For children, no effective standard chemotherapy treatment is currently available.

Your support, of any amount, will help change the course of cancer care and treatment in Alberta and beyond.

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Marco Gallo, PhD
@marcoUofC

Get the Latest Developments From the Gallo Lab

@marcoUofC

RT @giacomo_cavalli: For an (un)exhaustive review of #4DGenome study approaches take a look at "Understanding 3D #genome organization by #m…

@marcoUofC

RT @ggargiul_2020: Thanks to the ERC-StG iGBMavatars, we can explore sophisticated ways to advance preclinical models for #glioblastoma. Th…

@marcoUofC

RT @MatLupien: Hear my perspective on the importance of finding chromatin variants to complement efforts focused on genetic variants to ide…