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

Peter Dirks, Asthma and Physics

A bumper crop of updates this week.

There is a chance to join a conversation with Peter Dirks on 20th January at 12:00. This session, chaired by Professor Michael Jenkinson, Chair of the NCRI Brain Group and Professor of Neurosurgery from the University of Liverpool, will focus on brain cancer research key strategic priorities now and in the future. Dr Peter Dirks from The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, whose work has been recognised with several awards, will share how his team is working to understand the link between stem cell biology, development, and brain tumour growth.

It has been reported previously that children with asthma seem to be less likely to develop brain tumours than others. A reduction in the incidence of optic gliomas was also seen in children with Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) brain cancer predisposition who also had asthma. Researchers have proposed a new model in which brain cancer risk is modified by alterations in the function of circulating T cells. In this new mouse study, researchers discovered that asthma causes the T cells to behave in a way that induces lung inflammation but prevents the growth of brain tumours. This paper on the reduction of glioma formation by T cell decorin-mediated inhibition of microglia is published in Nature Communications.

New research in Germany has shown that brain tumours have unique properties, and their spread is driven by physics as well as biomechanics. These changes to the mechanical properties of cells can cause a brain tumour to become malignant. Using research conducted on tumours in living patients, the suggestion is that small changes to the elasticity of cells produce collective effects that impact the prognosis of a tumour. There is more information on how whole tissue and single cell mechanics are correlated in human brain tumours in the journal Soft Matter.

Member of the Brain Tumour Research Scientific and Medical Advisory Board (SMAB) and peer reviewer,  Dr Sean Lawler, has written this article on getting personal in brain tumour therapy by matching therapies to patients, he concludes “It is becoming clear that the clinical trial setting with careful tissue archiving and blood collection and analysis will uncover the answers for which we are searching.”

The Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission (TJBCM) has awarded excellence status to Barts Health and the Liverpool Network. These join nine other UK NHS neuro-centres as Tessa Jowell Centres of Excellence. Tessa Jowell Centre of Excellence status recognises the delivery of outstanding care and treatment by NHS staff in their efforts to provide above excellent patient care through a challenging time.

Surgeons are recruiting patients for a first-in-human, single arm, open-label phase 1 clinical trial investigating the safety and feasibility of using belly fat to treat recurrent glioblastoma. The US based surgical team are testing the viability of the omental tissue in bypassing the blood-brain barrier and treating the fast-growing, aggressive brain cancer.  

The first study to use CBD in an animal model of glioblastoma has suggested that inhaled CBD limits the growth of glioblastoma through the reduction of the essential support of its microenvironment. These results were reported in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

‘A cohort analysis of 'truly' incidental low-grade gliomas’ is a study that aimed to identify the incidence of incidental LGGs across two large, European neurosurgical centres and review the management and survival of these compared to symptomatic cases of cranial LGGs over a five-year period. It concludes with a call “for further global collaboration and the development of an international glioma registry with a focus on symptomatology, imaging indications (if incidental), histomolecular data and management.”

A research article published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) looked at how a combination of tucatinib and neural stem cells secreting anti-HER2 antibody prolongs survival of mice with metastatic brain cancer.

According to results from the first phase of a clinical trial, when administered alongside the standard therapy for patients with recurrent glioblastoma, a folic acid-like drug, “L-Methylfolate” changed the levels of DNA methylation within the tumour. The results were published in the journal Cancer Research Communications.

Abstract submission is open for this year’s British Neuro-Oncology Society Annual Meeting, which will be held in Liverpool from Wednesday 22 - Friday 24 June 2022.

By following this hyperlink you can hear Dr Fred Gentili tell his story of a brain tumour surgeon becoming a brain tumour patient.

Finally a curiosity that may be of interest to the neurosurgeons receiving these updates as you can click through to see photographs from a guide to operations on the brain by Alec Fraser from 1890.

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