Brain Tumour Research is the only national charity in the UK that is dedicated to raising funds for continuous and sustainable scientific research into brain tumours.
This financial year, we have already granted £2 million to our Brain Tumour Research Centres of Excellence and BRAIN UK, the virtual brain tumour tissue registry based at the University of Southampton.
Our research programmes remained resilient throughout the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and their continuing success is highlighted by the increasing number of significant discoveries being made.
We were pleased to see that overall spend on brain tumour research in the UK continued to increase, reaching almost £15.6 million in 2019/20, as reported by the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) . Nevertheless, there is a long way to go before our campaigning goal is reached, in which overall funding for brain tumour research exceeds £35 million per annum. With your support, we can contribute to the increase in national investment and invite applications for another Centre in the summer.
University of Plymouth
The Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at the University of Plymouth is a leading specialist research centre for low-grade brain tumours. The Centre incorporates three research groups investigating how tumours initially arise and how low-grade tumours develop into higher grade ones.
The team, led by Professor Oliver Hanemann, has made several exciting discoveries, including:
- The discovery of a biomarker which helps to distinguish whether meningioma is grade I or grade II meaning a simple blood test could reduce, or in some cases replace, the need for intrusive surgery to help determine the best course of treatment
- A potential novel biomarker that could be valuable in the early diagnosis of high-grade meningioma and offer new approaches for developing better treatment options
- Gathering evidence on the genetic changes that contribute to Neurofibromatosis which could be used to improve clinical decisions on diagnosis, treatment and prognosis
- A study showing that drugs developed to treat AIDS and HIV could be repurposed to treat meningioma and acoustic neuroma
Queen Mary University of London
The team at our Centre of Excellence at Queen Mary University of London focuses primarily on research into glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) – the most common and aggressive form of brain tumour in adults. The team, led by Professor Silvia Marino, is also applying innovative approaches to develop new treatments for childhood tumours, such as medulloblastoma and choroid plexus tumours.
The Centre has produced recent important results, including:
- Establishing an entirely new experimental research pipeline to analyse diseased and healthy cells from the same patient, which could pave the way for truly personalised treatment for GBM patients
- Identifying a potential new approach to treatment for medulloblastoma by cutting the tumour’s energy supply which brings hope of developing new targeted treatments
- Identifying potential new targets for treating GBM, which could be of great importance for developing new treatments for this aggressive form of brain cancer such as medulloblastoma, DIPG and Ependymoma
Imperial College, London
Led by consultant neurosurgeon Mr Kevin O’Neill and Dr Nel Syed, our Centre of Excellence at Imperial College, London undertakes a comprehensive array of interlinked laboratory, computational, artificial intelligence and clinical projects.
Significant news from the Centre includes:
- Research describing how a potential new treatment could dramatically improve the effectiveness of radiotherapy for patients diagnosed with GBM
- The launch of a new clinical trial testing a range of techniques for visualising and detecting tumour tissue, which, if successful, could help neurosurgeons to remove brain tumour tissue more effectively
- Neuro-oncology clinical research practitioner Lillie Pakzad-Shahabi receiving the North West London Clinical Research Network Rising Star Award
The close collaboration between the research laboratories at Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, particularly Charing Cross Hospital, places the Centre in a strong position to ensure that basic laboratory science is quickly translated into the clinic where patients can benefit from their cutting-edge research.
One of the biggest barriers to finding a cure for brain tumours is the lack of, and difficulty in acquiring, the tissue needed for innovative research.
BRAIN UK is a virtual brain bank that makes tissue samples available to the research community for high quality neurological research. It catalogues samples from participating NHS Neuropathology Centres in a centralised database. BRAIN UK provides access to over 120,000 cases, unlocking thousands of previously hard to access brain samples for researchers throughout the UK and internationally.
BRAIN UK has supported 63 brain tumour studies since it began. More than 7,000 cases have been approved for use with approximately 20,000 samples provided for these studies. Nearly 60% of researchers say their studies could not have been conducted without BRAIN UK, and most of the others say that the resource has had a significant impact.
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