Childhood Brain Tumours
FINDING A CURE FOR CHILDHOOD BRAIN TUMOURS
One in three children who die of cancer are killed by a brain tumour. This Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Brain Tumour Research is working with families to raise awareness and shine a spotlight on the historic underfunding of research into this devastating disease.
We are leading the way to increase the national investment in research to help improve outcomes. You can help us fund the fight and find a cure for all types of brain tumours by donating today or keep reading for more ways to get involved.
Fact File: Brain tumours in children
- One in three children who die of cancer are killed by a brain tumour
- Brain tumours kill more children than leukaemia
- Symptoms can include headaches, nausea and vomiting, changes in vision and loss of balance
- Treatment depends on the type of brain tumour, size and its location in the brain
- Depending on the circumstances, children diagnosed with brain tumours might be treated with surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy or a combination of two or more of these
- Medulloblastoma is the most common type of high-grade paediatric brain tumour and occurs more often in boys than in girls
- Diffuse midline glioma – previously known as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) or brain stem glioma – is the deadliest form of childhood cancer with a median survival of between eight and 12 months
- In 2021, the World Health Organization recategorised paediatric brain tumours (as well as adult tumours) due to an increased understanding of these tumours at a genetic and molecular level. It created a new group known as paediatric-type diffuse high-grade gliomas (PDHGG), which includes tumours formally known as paediatric glioblastoma (GBM) and DIPG
Jasmine ‘The Warrior Princess’ endured gruelling chemo and radiotherapy, and has more alternative treatment ahead, after being given a life-limiting diagnosis. Read her story here.
George was just 22 months old when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Despite surgery, chemo and radiotherapy he died, aged five. Read his story here.
We’re leading the way in research to find a cure
Brain Tumour Research is the only national charity in the UK dedicated to funding continuous and sustainable scientific research into brain tumours. We are building a network of Centres of Excellence across the UK where scientists are working to further our understanding of brain tumours.
The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR)
Professor Chris Jones, and his team at the Institute of Cancer Research, located in Sutton, Surrey, are studying paediatric-type diffuse high-grade gliomas, a collection of brain tumours in children and young adults with an extremely poor clinical outcome.
Our newest Centre of Excellence, launched during this Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, will identify new treatments for high-grade glioma brain tumours occurring in children and young adults, and includes brain stem glioma and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG).
Prof Jones and his team will identify, assess, and validate new therapeutic targets, generating the laboratory data needed to support the launch of new clinical trials. Their work spans the gap between basic biology and clinical benefit for children and young adults with high-grade glioma.
Queen Mary University of London
The Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at Queen Mary University of London is investigating group 4 medulloblastoma tumours, ependymoma and DIPG (also known as diffuse midline glioma). These tumours primarily affect children and have some of the lowest survival rates of all cancers.
Medulloblastoma is the most common high-grade paediatric brain tumour with around 70 children diagnosed in the UK each year. Survival rate is 70% for those whose tumour has not spread, but it is almost always fatal in cases of recurrent tumour.
The research team is working to understand the mechanisms behind the relationship of a certain set of genes and proteins present in group 4 medulloblastoma, the most common medulloblastoma subtype, as well as in ependymoma and DIPG. Researchers are investigating the value of these genes/proteins as therapeutic targets in these tumours, having already demonstrated that the drug inositol significantly extends survival in an animal pre-clinical model of medulloblastoma.
Imperial College London
Already established as a lead location for arginine deprivation studies in adult glioblastoma (GBM), the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at Imperial College London is expanding its investigations of the effect of arginine deprivation and radiation to include diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) – more recently referred to as diffuse midline glioma.
DIPG or diffuse midline glioma is an aggressive, high-grade brain tumour with an extremely poor outcome; the median overall survival for children with DIPG is between eight and 12 months.
The arginine depleting drug, ADI-PEG20, has already been shown to increase the effectiveness of radiotherapy for GBM tumours in models and is currently being readied for a window-of-opportunity trial by our Centre at Imperial College. Due to the location of DIPG tumours, as well as the fact that they are diffuse (no clear boundary), surgery is rarely an option for children with this type of tumour. Radiotherapy is currently the standard of care, therefore having a medication like ADI-PEG20 to make it more effective is encouraging.
University of Plymouth
The Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at the University of Plymouth is working on a number of projects to understand more about ependymomas, a glioma tumour that can occur in adults and children but is more common in children. Only 72.8% children will survive their tumour for five years or more (2012-2016).
Ependymomas can occur as a result of a genetically-inherited condition called neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2). Our team at Plymouth has a strong focus on both NF2 and brain tumours that have an NF2 mutation. Using their expertise, they are investigating the differences between ependymoma tumours that have a working NF2 gene, and those that do not.
They are also trialling Vivace TEAD inhibitor drugs (which have been shown to have a positive impact on NF2 tumours) in the lab and in animal models of ependymoma to assess their potential as a desperately needed novel treatment option.
You can help us get closer to a cure
We still need your help. Your support enables us to fund this vital research at our Centres of Excellence and sustains our campaigning to increase the national investment into brain tumour research.
- Donate now or set up a monthly donation to help build our research capacity
- Sign our petition calling on the Government to increase funding into brain tumour research
- Join one of our Walk of Hope events this September or hold your own wherever you are
- Fundraise your way and do your own thing to help raise money and awareness
- Become part of our passionate community of campaigners calling for change
Together we will find a cure.