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

Weekly pick of Neuroscience news from around the world

There has been widespread UK media coverage for a  new study, published in the journal Epidemiology that has linked air pollution nanoparticles to brain cancer for the first time. It was found that a one-year increase in pollution exposure of 10,000 nanoparticles per cubic centimetre – the approximate difference between quiet and busy city streets – increased the risk of brain cancer by more than 10%. The cities studied were Toronto and Montreal

The human brain has the ability to block cancer drugs from effectively reaching cancer cells in the brain and the greatest obstacle to treating cancer is the brain’s natural defence mechanism, the blood-brain barrier, the collection of blood vessels that can filter out what goes in and out of the brain. When cancer cells invade the brain, the blood-brain barrier transitions into the blood-tumour barrier, and this transition still presents a roadblock for effective drug delivery however a new ‘road map’ could ease blockages to this effective drug delivery to the brain. Recently published work in Oncotarget from scientists at Purdue University, Indiana, has provided the first comprehensive characterization of both the blood-brain and blood-tumour barriers in brain metastases of lung cancer, and this will serve as a road map for treatment development. The principal investigator of the Comparative Blood-Brain Barrier Laboratory at Pudue, Tiffany Lyle said “Identifying when that change occurs during the transition is critical because it tells us when and where the brain vasculature prevents effective drug delivery.”

Scientists obtained new compounds with potential anti-tumour effect from sea sponge, click this link to find out more about how chemists from Far Eastern Federal University's School of Natural Sciences (SNS FEFU) developed a new method to synthesise biologically active derivatives of fascaplysin – a cytotoxic pigment of a sea sponge. FEFU scientists have already shown that fascaplysin derivatives stimulate the death of glioblastoma multiforme cells - the most aggressive type of brain cancer.

Click through to Phase 1 study in patients with Glioblastoma multiforme, and read details of the first abstract (an abstract is a brief summary of a research article). It is a small study of eight patients but showed that the drug ifabotuzumab is effectively delivered across the blood-tumour barrier and accumulates specifically at the tumour site in all patients treated to date with no observed normal tissue uptake “Our results show that ifabotuzumab is safe and very effective at targeting the tumour,” said professors Hui Gan and Andrew Scott, who led the study from the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute in Melbourne. “We are also excited that there are early indications that ifabotuzumab may help to control disease growth in some patients."

News of an encouraging trial here; Positive Phase 2 Glioblastoma Data Interim results from a Phase 2 trial testing immunotherapy AV-GBM-1 in patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) shows current survival is 96% at six months and 91% at twelve months with three patients followed for more than a year. Furthermore, a vast majority of patients displayed an appropriate immune response and a decrease of tumour biomarkers. The trial is still in progress and will continue to enrol patients for a few more months with follow up for at least another year. Final analysis likely will occur in early 2021.

To learn about the difference between Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials and more about the whole vital area of clinical trials please do click through to our clinical trials information page for a concise but comprehensive overview.

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