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National brain tumour research funding needs to increase to £30-35 million a year

New weakness found in most common childhood malignant brain tumour

New weakness found in most common childhood malignant brain tumour

A new weakness found in medulloblastoma, the most common form of childhood brain tumour, could lead to more personalised medicine and improved treatment for some patients, according to an early study by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), funded by the Medical Research Council and supported by Brain Tumour Research.

Current treatments for medulloblastoma include a combination of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy which are not specific in how they target the tumour, and often lead to significant side effects, such as mental and physical disabilities.

Treatment is further complicated by the fact that medulloblastoma is not a single disease but classified into subgroups with different prognosis and survival. Little is known about the most aggressive and most common form of the disease, and better knowledge on how to identify and treat those patients could improve prognosis.

Lead researcher Professor Silvia Marino from QMUL said: “We’ve identified a new weakness in a subgroup of aggressive medulloblastomas, which potentially means that they could be susceptible to drugs which we did not know could be used to treat this type of cancer.

“Those drugs are already being tested in clinical trials for other tumours, so if we’re able to confirm their efficacy in medulloblastoma patients, they could be brought in as treatments quicker than if we would have to develop a new drug.”

Dr Kieran Breen, Director of Research, Brain Tumour Research, said: “The results from this study will allow for the identification of tumour subtypes which we can target with individual agents and ultimately increase the survival rate for people with this type of tumour.”

The researchers caution that further research and clinical trials in humans will be needed before confirming these drugs’ potential.

Study published in Cell Reports.

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