Interview Josefine Radke

In June, Josefine Radke and her team were awarded with the Paper of the Month for their publication on a signal path that plays an important role in the development of malignant gliomas. We interviewed her about her research and the project.

What is at the core of your research? What motivates you to perform this research?

Our research focuses on brain tumors, specifically glioblastoma. This tumor is the most common, malignant, primary brain tumor. Despite numerous studies and experimental therapeutic approaches, this tumor still has a very poor prognosis and the median survival time is currently only 15 months. It is therefore important to investigate these tumors genetically and epigenetically to better understand the development mechanisms and develop additional therapeutic options.

What is the essence / core message of your publication, and how does your study differ from the work of other scientists in this field?

In our paper, we describe the expression of the pAXL enzyme in glioblastoma. The expression of AXL has already been shown in glioblastoma in previous studies. The phosphorylated variant pAXL, however, represents the active form of the enzyme. It was therefore important to show that this form is also expressed in glioblastoma. Furthermore, we identified various types of expression and thus demonstrated that a particular patient group could benefit from the inhibition or inactivation of pAXL. Inhibiting pAXL is a possible treatment option for glioblastoma patients (most likely in combination with the inhibition of other kinases/enzymes).

Which partner institutions did you collaborate with for the publication? Who were the major contributors to the work?

The close collaboration with the two Charité Departments of Neurosurgery and Neuropathology was crucial for the creation of this publication. This was the only way to identify the corresponding patients and examine their tissues more closely.

What are the next steps planned for the project, and what are the possible implications of your findings for patients?

We are already working on further glioblastoma projects. Regarding pAXL, we were able to demonstrate that inhibiting the receptor to which pAXL binds reduces tumor growth in cell cultures and in an animal model. We are currently researching the signal cascades involved and possible resistance mechanisms against anti-AXL therapies.

A variety of AXL inhibitors have entered clinical Phase I and II studies for the treatment of other tumor entities. We will therefore soon have further data on human tolerability with the objective of a clinical study on AXL inhibition in patients with glioblastoma.