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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

A big brain tumour story was covered by The Times this week and concerned Seizure outcomes and survival in adult low-grade glioma over 11 years: living longer and better ( this is the medical paper because The Times has a paywall) and it was reported on our Latest News here with a quote from Professor Garth Cruickshank, the Chair of our SMAB. There is an interesting point here that although surgery does appear to be delivering great results it does put patients on a surgery/radiotherapy/chemotherapy journey which may not always be the best pathway, but this is definitely a piece of good news to be celebrated

Also announced this week was the long-awaited acquisition of cancer drug specialist Celgene by Bristol- Myers Squibb. BMS’s MD, Chief Executive and Chairman talks about “one of the most diverse and promising pipelines in the industry” and says in this press release “I know we will deliver on our vision of transforming patients’ lives through science.” I think we all hope that this will be the case and this new pharma giant will undoubtedly have a huge influence on new cancer drugs to market for the next generation.

Another pharma collaboration, albeit on a far smaller scale was our Latest News for Wednesday as two US concerns allied in a clinical collaboration aimed at improving treatments for patients diagnosed with glioblastoma.

SurVaxM is an immunotherapy designed to stimulate the immune system to kill tumour cells that contain survivin, a protein that helps cancer cells to resist conventional treatments. The drug has been studied most extensively in patients with glioblastoma. The inventors of this new and unique cancer immunotherapy have announced a major step forward with SurVaxM. They have entered into a China-exclusive licensing agreement for SurVaxM with Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical (Group) Co. Ltd., based in Shanghai, China and this is seen as a promising development.

Researchers have devised a new plan of attack against a group of deadly childhood brain cancers collectively called diffuse midline gliomas (DMG), including diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). Scientists at the National Institutes of Health, Stanford University, California, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, identified a drug pair that worked together to both kill cancer cells and counter the effects of a genetic mutation that causes the diseases. Any progress toward a cure for the untold awfulness of DIPG is to be welcomed and this particular story was also picked up by The Daily Mail and you can read that report here.

Results from a new study may explain how some brain cells may help to fuel cancer metastasis. Astrocytes, a type of brain cell, can drive the spread of cancer to the brain. In the study, researchers showed that astrocytes can activate a growth protein in cancer cells called PPAR-gamma. That protein, in turn, helps the cancer cells gain a foothold in the brain. When cancer cells travel to the brain, the researchers reported, fatty acids released by astrocytes appear to activate the PPAR-gamma signalling pathway in the cancer cells, creating the right conditions for them to survive and grow. This is an easy to read, informative report and definitely worth a click through.

Finally the 24th Annual Meeting of Society for NeuroOncology is underway in Phoenix – check out the programme for the most important annual scientific conference for our community. Researchers from our dedicated research centres are in attendance including Professor Silvia Marino (QMUL) and Professor Oliver Hanemann (Plymouth) and they will be there flying the flag for UK brain tumour research. 

Congratulations to Rose and her fiancé Tom, from all of us here at Brain Tumour Research!

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