Of all the diagnoses that send a shiver down a parent’s spine, DIPG (diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma) ranks with the very worst. An aggressive brain tumour, it takes out functions such as the ability to swallow and blink one by one, while leaving the child cognitively intact.

Until now, the only treatment has been radiation therapy, which holds the disease at bay for a few short months. What makes it so intractable is its location in the brain stem, an area so sensitive that until recently, even biopsies were out of the question. All clinicians can do is watch it grow and spread via MRI.

It occurred to neuro-oncology researcher, Associate Professor David Ziegler, that if he could culture some DIPG cells, it would open a door to finding a cure.

But turning a bright idea into actual research turned out to be harder than he thought.

This article was created for the NSW Health & Medical Research. You can read the full article here.

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