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

CRUK announces new Cancer Grand Challenges teams

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) has announced four new Cancer Grand Challenges teams.

Cancer Grand Challenges is a funding initiative co-funded and co-founded with the National Cancer Institute in the US. It provides teams with £20 million to come together, think differently and take on some of cancer’s toughest challenges. The initiative now supports 10 teams.

Of the four teams announced last week at least two have a specific focus on brain tumours.

The first, Team: NexTGen, will be researching solid tumours in children. The team will be led by Martin Pule (University College London) and Catherine Bollard (Children’s National Hospital, US), with investigators across the UK, US and France.

By building a deep understanding of the development of solid cancers in children, applying advanced cellular engineering technologies and performing progressive clinical studies, the NexTGen team seeks to produce effective CAR T-cell therapies for children with sarcomas and brain tumours.

The second, Team: eDyNAmiC will be studying extrachromosomal DNA (ecDNA), led by Paul Mischel (Stanford University, US) with investigators across the UK, US and Germany.

Present in around one in three cancers, including brain tumours such as glioblastoma (GBM), ecDNA enables tumours to rapidly evolve their genome, driving tumour heterogeneity that results in treatment resistance and promoting aggressive tumour behaviour and poorer outcomes for patients. The team aims to understand how ecDNA subverts conventional evolution and enables tumour cells to thrive. This will hopefully lead the team to identify targetable vulnerabilities for ecDNA-driven cancers – some of the hardest types of cancer to treat.

Our Director of Research, Policy and Innovation, Dr Karen Noble, said: “Any investment in research that could improve outcomes for brain tumour patients is good news and we welcome this announcement from CRUK.

“Early-stage research underpins all clinical innovation and is the first stage in the translational pipeline that brings new treatments to patients. We remain steadfast on our mission to increase the UK investment in brain tumour research as this is how we will unlock the complex puzzle that brain tumours pose.”

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