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

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Researchers based in Scotland have revealed details of their work towards a blood test that could be helpful in detecting brain tumours. Details of their study were published in the journal Nature Communications. The research team used infrared light to create a ‘bio-signature’ of people's blood samples and applied artificial intelligence to scan for signs of cancer. In initial tests, this technique identified brain cancer in 87% of cases. The lead author of the new research, Dr Matthew Baker from the University of Strathclyde, said, “This is the first publication of data from our clinical feasibility study, and it is the first demonstration that our blood test works in the clinic." This type of blood test could prove invaluable in deciding whether patients with non-specific symptoms (i.e. headaches, vision problems etc) should be prioritised for diagnostic scans.

One reason glioblastomas are so virulent is that they can suppress and evade parts of the patient’s immune system. Researchers at the University of Minnesota injected hollowed silica particles into glioblastoma cells. They then treated the tumours with high-intensity focused ultrasound. The ultrasound blew up the silica particles, rupturing the cancer cells, which released proteins that attracted an immune response from the patient’s body to fight cancer.

Scientists working at Tufts University in Massachusetts have developed an environment that closely mimics that of the brain and were able to grow paediatric and adult tumours inside this environment. Disha Sood, the lead author of the study, commented, “With this platform, we have the potential to better understand what dictates the invasive behaviour of brain tumours and screen drugs for their effect on the tumour growth.”

Research at the University of Cambridge has found that mitochondria are responsible for more cell growth in brain tumours than was previously thought. 

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