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

Non-invasive surgical techniques and the impact of age and sex

Consultant Neurosurgeon Kevin O’Neill (pictured), who leads our Research Centre at Imperial College, alongside Neuro-oncology Research Fellow Giulio Anichini, for whom this is a PhD project, has recently launched a new clinical study that will test a range of techniques for visualising and detecting tumour tissue, which if successful, would help neurosurgeons to remove brain tumour tissue more effectively.

Being able to identify and preserve functional tissue during surgery is becoming possible thanks to technological advancements in the field of neurophysiology. The new clinical study will test a range of non-invasive techniques during surgery, which are called multispectral analysis, hyperspectral imaging and fluorescence. These techniques consist of a camera with a filter that is linked to the standard microsurgical and endoscopic instruments used in theatre. These optical techniques are very sensitive and are able to detect subtle differences that exist between tumour tissue and normal tissue.

This approach is already being tested in lung, colon, skin, and head and neck surgery. Whilst being non-invasive, this technique has a low cost and the machinery is not particularly bulky making it easier to use during surgery.

The clinical study is now open at Imperial College London and Imperial College NHS Trust. It aims to recruit 50 patients and is likely to run for three years.

Giulio Anichini is funded by Brain Tumour Research and we are extremely pleased to announce that for this study he has been awarded a European Association of Neurosurgical Societies (EANS) Operative Neurosurgery (Microsurgery) Research Grant for 10,000 Euros enabling him to acquire new components for the imaging device (filters/software) to assist the study. Read more about new approaches to removing brain tumours safely and effectively at our Imperial Research Centre here.

There has been a lot of press coverage recently about computer scientists and cancer specialists using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to work out that combining the drugs Everolimus and Vandetanib could treat the deadly paediatric brain tumour diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). Testing has already started on a small number of children and experts now hope to test it on a much larger group of children in major clinical trials.

Findings suggest that sex and age are crucial factors in the care and survival of patients with malignant brain tumours and other central nervous systems (CNS) cancers. An examination of nearly 295,000 individuals with malignant tumours originating in the brain discovered that the overall incidence of gliomas was higher among males, and that difference increased with age, while females had longer survival at almost every age, except among children aged 0-9 years. These results contribute to the growing understanding and impact that sex and age have on cancer incidence and survival. Identifying disadvantaged sex and age groups is critical in designing clinical trials, and in developing individual care plans for patients with these lethal tumours.

The study results were published recently in the journal Neuro-oncology.

Research sheds light on how brain metastasis occurs;  a recent study suggests that the area of the brain that cancer metastasises to isn’t random but is very much determined by the site that the cancer originated in. Lung cancer and melanoma had a higher likelihood for the metastasis to be at the frontal and temporal lobes. Breast, renal and colon cancer had a higher propensity to the back of the brain such as such as the cerebellum and the brainstem

The heart-breaking consequence of paediatric radiotherapy can be paediatric radiation-induced high-grade gliomas (RIGs) which, although rare, are caused by cranial radiation therapy for other cancers, most often brain cancers. Research analysing RIGs, using DNA and RNA sequencing is trying to discover how they differ from ‘new’ gliomas — or gliomas that develop not in response to cranial radiation – and for ways to prevent RIGs from forming, as well as methods to treat them once they arise. The findings were that the mutations that occur in these tumours are different to the mutations that characterise new paediatric high-grade gliomas which implies that a different biological process is driving their development.

The research was published in the journal Nature Communications.

In the US the Ivy Brain Tumour Centre is conducting a Phase 0/2 clinical trial to evaluate Pamiparib (a PARP inhibitor) in patients with newly diagnosed or recurrent glioblastoma. If the research shows that Pamiparib is reaching the tumour tissue, they will compare it with Olaparib, another PARP inhibitor, which is currently in Phase 2 trials for newly diagnosed and recurrent glioblastoma. The goal of this study is to confirm that the drug is capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier. We mentioned this in a research news update 10 months ago but you can now find out more including the trial’s eligibility criteria here.

New research has been published from Italian researchers exploring the role of Lamin A/C as a candidate biomarker of aggressiveness and tumorigenicity in Glioblastoma Multiforme

The UCL Brain Cancer Seminar Series picks up again on Wednesday 6th October at  12-1pm with presentations from Associate Professor (University of Toronto)/Scientist, Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre (Hospital for Sick Children) Sunit Das  on  Understanding intracranial metastatic disease:What does our clinical experience teach us about biology? and Consultant Neuroradiologist (UCLH NHS Trust)/Honorary Associate Professor (UCL) Harpreet Hyare on A network-based approach to understanding gliomas.

To register, please visit the  Eventbrite page.

For further information about the UCL Brain Cancer Seminar Series, or if you would like to present at future seminars, please contact Morium Ali - BRC Neuro-Oncology Coordinator

Our great friends at the International Brain Tumour Alliance (IBTA) have launched an international call for submissions for BRILLIANCE! – a virtual exhibition of creative works from the global brain tumour community” This inaugural event aspires to shine a brilliant light on the inspiring creativity and diversity of the international brain tumour community. Read more about BRILLIANCE on the IBTA website.

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