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

Breakthrough in meningioma profiling provides hope for new treatments

Researchers at the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at University of Plymouth have published research that paves the way for desperately needed new treatments for the most common primary brain tumour, meningioma.

Meningiomas account for up to 36% of all primary brain tumours and yet there are no effective chemotherapy drugs available to patients. Whilst grade 1 meningiomas can often be successfully treated by surgery, higher grades can be much more challenging with up to 78% of grade 3 meningiomas recurring within 5 years. New, more effective and less intrusive treatments  would revolutionise options for patients.

The Plymouth research team, led by Professor Oliver Hanemann, have analysed the proteins expressed and activated in these tumours accessing the largest sample size to date of these most challenging grade 3 meningiomas. These tumour cells are then compared to healthy cells from the same part of the brain.

Their approach also takes into account the tumour microenvironment (the way in which tumour and healthy cells interact around the tumour).

Proteins influence the way that these challenging tumours behave, and Professor Hanemann’s group identified and analysed many proteins that have never been described before.

Professor Hanemann explains why the research is so exciting and how his team will take it forward:

“The genetic profile of meningiomas has been relatively well studied in recent years and has provided invaluable information about the ways in which these tumour cells differ from healthy brain cells. However, how these genetic changes influence the actual development of meningiomas and whether they can themselves be used as targets for drug therapy remains unclear. Our research, focused on the proteins that are made and activated in response to those genetic changes, offers a whole new range of potential bio-markers and targets against which drugs could prove to be effective, or by which new understanding of tumour behaviour could become clear.

Our team will now be looking at whether existing drugs could be repurposed for use in meningiomas, and how new drugs may be developed. Ultimately, our aim is to begin clinical trials and get new treatments out to patients as quickly as possible.”

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