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

Stem cells, news from Seve’s centre and all about the NCI

Tumour heterogeneity, or the genetic variation of tumour cells, is one reason why brain tumours can be resistant to treatment. After treatment, resistant cells remain and subsequently repopulate the tumour. Now scientists have identified a population of cells within glioblastomas from which all other cancerous cells within the tumour arise  (scroll down – it is the third story) and they suggest that targeting these ‘glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs)’ with drug interventions could  slow cancer growth offering a potent future treatment option. Based in Canada the research leader said “Understanding how these cancer cells interact with the cancer microenvironment is not well understood in this disease, but this study serves as a good starting point to begin to understand how glioblastoma originates and evolves prior to treatments.”

News from the Seve Ballesteros Foundation Brain Tumour Group now, as they have made important findings on how some gliomas can acquire chemoresistance. At present, the main treatment for glioma is a combination of radiotherapy and the chemotherapy agent temozolomide. Similar to most of the chemotherapy drugs, temozolomide induces DNA damage in cancer cells. Gliomas can progress by repairing this damage through an enzyme encoded by the MGMT gene. In patients whose MGMT activity is blocked because of a modification of its promoter called 'hypermethylation', cancer cells cannot repair the temozolomide-induced damage and collapse. Unfortunately, up to 40-50% of patients are intrinsically resistant to temozolomide. These patients express high levels of MGMT and the tumours continue growing under treatment. Click through to find out more about the science underpinning this study. The next step will be identifying novel treatment intervention for the temozolomide resistant patients.

This week we are going to look more closely at some of the work going on in the US at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) - part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) -  much of it supported by the Cancer Moonshot launched in 2016 by former Vice President Joe Biden whose son, Beau Biden, died from a brain tumour the previous year.

In this blog they detail recent advances in brain tumour clinical care and research including collaborative scientific workshops and meetings, progress in clinical care and outcomes, discoveries in tumour biology and improving ependymoma treatment guidelines.

Here scientists focus on fusion proteins in childhood cancers to accelerate progress in cancer research with their focus being difficult to treat cancers including ependymoma.

Finally from the NCI work on how epilepsy surgery helps brain tumour patients

Last up today a subject that I think we have covered before but in case you missed it the concept of targeted ultrasound for non-invasive diagnosis of brain cancer is really helpfully and clearly explained here.

Related reading:


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