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

Weekly pick of brain tumour research news from around the world

The growth of brain cancers can be better understood with the help of a new computer platform developed by international scientists and what’s more the unique platform which can be used to help develop better treatments for glioma is freely available

While the world has its attention fixated on coronavirus, researchers at Yale University have released new preclinical data showing that one of the world’s deadliest viruses can be used to fight brain tumours leading them to ask the question;  “Could Ebola virus be an ally in the fight against brain cancer?”

Included in a latest news post on our website this week and given large media coverage was news of a UK-first as patient plays violin while undergoing brain surgery

New study explores how glioblastoma cells can undergo exploratory adaptation to survive and cause recurrence. Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery have been considered treatment staples for glioblastoma for decades. However, many chemotherapy drugs are not able to reach the brain and there are no specific treatments that can kill all the cancerous cells.  Because of this, the tumour usually grows back within six to nine months of initial diagnosis and treatment. Notably, glioblastoma cells can also survive treatment by changing or adapting to their environment. Being able to predict how these changes occur is a crucial step to increasing patient survival. In a new paper in Nature Communications, authors from the  National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Neuro-Oncology Branch study how glioblastoma cells can evolve over time explaining how organisms, including cancer cells, adapt and survive in stressful or new conditions. Although it was first discovered in yeast and fruit flies, exploratory adaptation can also be applied to tumours. In fact, it is even more relevant in glioblastoma since the tumour cells can quickly learn to adapt and survive various treatments. Those of you who have been to our Plymouth lab, or are aware of the research we fund there will know of their fruit fly interest too!

In experiments researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Centre report evidence that combining the experimental cancer medication TAK228 (also called sapanisertib) with an existing anti-cancer drug called trametinib may be more effective than either drug alone in decreasing the growth of paediatric low-grade gliomas. It is important to remember that drugs are frequently used in combination as are interventions ( e.g drugs plus radiotherapy). One major benefit of combination therapies is that they reduce development of drug resistance since a tumour is less likely to have resistance to multiple drugs simultaneously.

Research scientists and doctors in the US  have blended two very different types of analysis to better understand and combat GBM. The researchers used the tools of Artificial Intelligence (AI)—in this case, computer image analysis of the initial MRI scans taken of brain cancer patients—and compared that image analysis with genomic research to analyse the cancer. The result is a new and more accurate way to not only determine the relative life expectancy of glioblastoma victims, but identify who could be candidates for experimental clinical drug trials. This could have huge implications in designing personalised treatment regimens in glioblastoma patients.

New views of the enemy, beautiful but deadly;  close-up image of brain cancer cells

Finally a mention for “Everything That Makes Us Human - Case Notes of a Children’s Brain Surgeon” which was released yesterday – a remarkable book by a remarkable man.

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