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

BNOS Young Investigator Award- result and reaction

At the end of last week, we were delighted to announce the winner of the British Neuro-Oncology Society (BNOS) Young Investigator Award 2021, which Brain Tumour Research is proud to co-sponsor. The award, which recognises an early-career researcher who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of neuro-oncology in the UK, was given to John Apps for his work on craniopharyngioma. John is a National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Academic Clinical Lecturer at the University of Birmingham and Paediatric Oncology Registrar at the Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. He is also an Honorary Lecturer at University College London, where the majority of the work contributing to the prize was carried out.

Dr Apps said: “I am absolutely delighted to win this award. Paediatric craniopharyngioma is a niche area and it is great to be recognised within the wider field of neuro-oncology. In receiving this award, I am also extremely grateful to my supervisors, their teams, and the very wide range of collaborators and contributors who have made the work possible.”

We were thrilled to see the reaction to this news on our Facebook page with nearly 700 likes and 29 comments many using the word “hero” – it just goes to show the esteem in which brain tumour scientists are held by our community and the faith placed in them to improve patient options and outcomes.

Adult medulloblastoma (MB) is rare, and management guidelines are largely based on paediatric clinical trials and retrospective series. Limited data exist with respect to clinical characteristics, prognostic factors, and outcomes based on first-line treatments however this, the largest single-institution retrospective study of adult MB, identifies standard-risk status, first-line RT and adjuvant chemotherapy as factors associated with improved outcomes.

Glioblastoma is heterogeneous, it is not a single disease. Even within the same tumour, the cells can differ vastly from each other. Because they will be very heterogeneous in response to treatment is exactly why tumours are prone to recurring and what makes them so difficult to fight. This research is focusing on residual disease, the cells that are left behind after surgery and survive treatment with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Doctors cannot know how these cells will behave; some may seed new, aggressive tumours that resist further treatment. “What is left behind is not equal to what is taken out” Interesting stuff, easily explained.

The immunotherapy firm Medicenna is conducting a Phase III trial centred on an innovative approach using interleukins to treat recurrent glioblastoma.

Those of you with a subscription to the BMJ can log in to read about Glioblastoma: clinical presentation, diagnosis, and management from, among others, Chris McKinnon, academic clinical fellow and neurosurgery specialist registrar.

A handful of imaging groups have joined together to launch the 10th annual Brain Tumour Segmentation challenge. The event, known as BraTs 2021, will have participants use artificial intelligence to detect and classify brain tumours on large, annotated datasets consisting of multi-parametric MRI (mpMRI) scans.

The FDA has granted a fast track designation to Berubicin as a potential therapeutic option for patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme. Berubicin is an anthracycline, which is part of a class of chemotherapy agents that have demonstrated efficacy against several types of cancer. Notably, the agent is one of the first anthracyclines that can cross the blood–brain barrier and overcome drug resistance.

July 21 is Glioblastoma Awareness Day – keep an eye on our Latest News pages all next week.

Here is an invitation to apply to join a BNOS subcommittee!

Dr Claudia Barros and her team at our Centre of Excellence at the University of Plymouth are using a brain tumour model in Drosophila fruit flies to study tumour-initiating cells. The team has identified genes that trigger the development of all grades of glioma brain tumours: astrocytoma, oligodendroglioma and glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). By understanding how normal cells develop into tumour-initiating cells and then keep on fuelling those tumours, new treatments to target these cells can be developed. Armed with this knowledge I then came across this research which although not new might give us all something to ponder over the weekend; Male fruit flies will often consume alcohol after sexual rejection. Well they would wouldn’t they?

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