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Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer

Drug repurposing report

by Dr Kieran Breen

Brain Tumour Research is proud to announce that a new report on repurposed medicines has been published and sent to the Health Minister, Lord O’Shaughnessy. Brain Tumour Research was one of the key stakeholders who helped to put together this report, along with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), Royal Colleges and other research charities. The report was compiled by the Association of Medical Research Charities resulting from an extensive series of meetings and collaboration following a request by the Government in 2015.

Alongside the extraordinary work of scientists and researchers who work to uncover new understandings of the body and develop innovative, new treatments, there is a huge amount of promising work being done to study how existing medicines can be used for new treatments. There is clear evidence that drugs can provide treatments for diseases (particularly cancers) that they were not originally designed to tackle, alongside a groundswell of support from patients and clinicians to use them.

As our Director of Research, Dr Kieran Breen, has argued in a recent review in Oncology News, repurposing research should be a “key research priority” for the brain tumour community, with new treatments already in the pipeline. Research at a number of our Centres of Excellence has highlighted some candidate drugs which are being assessed in detail to identify those which may be effective in the clinic.

While there are definite benefits to using repurposed treatments, there have been a number of blocks to their wide use. One of the key blocks, and the one tackled by the report, is a lack of support for clinicians who wish to prescribe these drugs, and a lack of information for patients wanting to consent to these treatments. In response to the Government’s request for information about the existing barriers, the report provides information about the existing frameworks which support drug repurposing within current legal systems, whilst adhering to the strict safety measures in place.

Brain Tumour Research have always been supportive of attempts to boost repurposing and hope that this report is another step towards a system that boosts innovation and finds treatments. 

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