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

Research breakthroughs, Chair of APPGBT speaks out and we hold a get together

by Hugh Adams


At a Westminster Hall debate on Wednesday Derek Thomas MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on brain tumours (APPGBT), emphasised to fellow MPs the need for funding into brain tumour research. The debate was called by Daniel Zeichner MP and was looking at the “Future of research and development funding”. Derek said: “We have developed the COVID vaccine through proper funding and a reduction in logistics and bulky infrastructure. Brain tumours predate COVID and their lethal threat will remain when the vaccine has reduced COVID mortality rates. “He added that “public funding for research is critical if we are to offer hope to brain tumour sufferers” and that “without new discovery science, the outlook for patients with brain tumours is very bleak.”

Derek concluded: “It is critical in this month of March (Brain Tumour Awareness Month) and as we go forward to make sure that adequate funding is going into research so that we can find the correct way to treat and cure those who have a brain tumour diagnosis.”

In response, Amanda Solloway MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said that the Government “recognises the importance of research into such devastating conditions.”

The brain tumour community is very fortunate to have so fierce a parliamentary advocate as Derek Thomas.

The full debate, including Derek’s contribution, can be read on Hansard here.

On Tuesday night, we were joined by supporters, scientists, celebrities and MPs for a virtual Westminster event to mark Brain Tumour Awareness Month. Opening the event our Chief Executive, Sue Farrington Smith MBE, highlighted the urgent need for more to be done. She said: “We believe it is time for the Government to create a legacy for the brain tumour community and make the UK a world leader in finding curative therapies for brain tumours. And that is what we will continue to campaign for on behalf of the more than 100,000 people that have signed our petition, the thousands of families that are living with the devastation and those that are yet to hear the devastating diagnosis.”

TV presenter Sarah Beeny, who lost her mum to a brain tumour at the age of 10 only to lose her stepmother to the disease 30 years later, spoke movingly about the importance of raising awareness and her optimism for the future.

Sarah said: “We need to start with awareness, we need to open up the funding lines and we need to encourage the young. We need to think differently.

“I believe this is our time. I believe the future is bright and I believe this is an opportunity. Tough times are the compost for success as long as the right gardener cuts back the dead wood and allows the new shoots to flourish.”

We also heard from Nicki Hopkins, who spoke emotively about her husband David’s brain tumour diagnosis and the difficulties in accessing costly treatment abroad; Derek Thomas MP; Professor Garth Cruickshank, Chair of our Scientific and Medical Advisory Board; Professor Silvia Marino, Principal Investigator at our Queen Mary University of London Centre of Excellence; and Professor Oliver Hanemann, who leads the team at the University of Plymouth.

Speaking of our research centre at the University of Plymouth exciting news of a research breakthrough from there which could see a simple blood test reduce, or in some cases replace, the need for intrusive surgery to help determine the best course of treatment for patients with meningioma.

Researchers have discovered a biomarker which helps to distinguish whether meningioma is grade I or grade II. The grading is significant because lower grade tumours can sometimes remain dormant for long periods, not requiring high risk surgery or harsh treatments. Tumours classified as grade II can progress to become cancerous and more aggressive treatment may be needed in order to try to control their spread.

Currently meningioma patients are usually put on watch and wait, undergo radiotherapy or have surgery in an attempt to remove the tumour. Between 70 and 85% of meningioma cases are lower grade so if the blood test – or liquid biopsy – is carried out these patients may well be spared surgery or radiotherapy.

The team at Plymouth, led by Professor Oliver Hanemann, has published its work on this novel biomarker known as the protein Fibulin-2 (FBLN2) in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences. Although FBLN2 has been linked to other types of cancer, the team believes that this study is the first to link the FBLN2 protein as a biomarker for meningioma.

Research breakthroughs, MPs joining us for a virtual event and the Chair of the APPGBT sharing our cause with his contemporaries – what a #BrainTumourAwareness Month this is proving to be and we haven’t even launched our report yet or celebrated #WearAHatDay – that’s next Friday so I’ll be compiling next week’s blog with my hat on and I am hoping that all of you will be getting involved and I expect all of you to read that blog with your hat on too!


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