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

Blood test biopsy for children with brain tumours

Brain biopsies can pose a number of risks, particularly for paediatric patients. According to a study published in Clinical Cancer Research, a new blood test for children with brain tumours could provide a safer approach than surgical biopsies. It might also show the effectiveness of treatment even before changes are visible on MRI scans.

In contrast to a standard biopsy which requires a surgical procedure, the so-called liquid biopsy is significantly less invasive using samples of blood and cerebrospinal fluid.

In the study, 48 children with high-grade diffuse midline glioma had liquid biopsies utilising plasma from their blood and cerebrospinal fluid from lumbar punctures.

The researchers then looked for tumour DNA in these samples. They identified a driver mutation called H3K27M in 42 of the 48 patients, a level comparable to that found using standard biopsy.

This method can be especially useful for patients who have undergone radiotherapy. Subtle tumour changes may not be noticeable on MRI and so these liquid biopsies can provide answers on the reaction to treatments faster.

We will continue to monitor the developments of research into liquid biopsy blood test for cancer detection.

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