Research Papers Published

Professor Geoff Pilkington and his team of specialist researchers are working tirelessly to find new levels of understanding in one of the most complicated and challenging battle-grounds in medicine today: to achieve a full understanding of all types of brain tumour and the methods required to cure them. 

Geoff’s knowledge of brain tumours is tremendous and, together with our help and that of our wonderful family of member charities, fundraising groups and supporters across the UK, has built up a formidable team of scientists working at our Centre of Excellence in the University of Portsmouth.

Geoff comments: “The incidence of primary brain tumours has risen at an alarming level over the past few decades and these tumours generally bring with them a very poor prognosis. Indeed the latest statistics show an increasing mortality rate in the UK from brain tumours over the past three decades.

“Although they only rarely metastasise to distant organs, one of the major biological features of this disease is the cellular invasion of the brain itself, often aggressive and damaging, usually life threatening. Brain tumours can, in certain circumstances, affect individuals’ personality. In these cases, if you’re lucky, the changes will be slight, but they can also be profound, leading to completely new character traits. These changes alone can tear families apart.

“Through life or death, brain tumours are truly devastating and we’re absolutely committed to finding a cure. That is why the sustainable and continuous long-term funding model adopted by Brain Tumour Research is so important in this fight.”

Here are brief summaries of the latest published results from the team. This is just a snap shot of their work and we will be documenting further progress reports in due course.


Research paper title: A prominin-1-rich pediatric glioblastoma: biologic behaviour is determined by oxygen tension-modulated CD133 expression but not accompanied by underlying molecular profiles.

What we’ve learnt: This study shows that the protein CD133 is expressed in tumour cells taken from a paediatric glioblastoma. CD133 is also found in other tumours in the body. However, this study shows that CD133 levels can change depending on the conditions cells are grown in and indicate this molecule may influence brain tumour cell behaviour.


Research paper title: CD133: holy grail of neuro-oncology or promiscuous red herring?

What we’ve Learnt: The protein CD133 is found in brain tumour cells when oxygen levels are low. Low oxygen is common in the middle of tumours, where blood supply is poor, and it is thought that CD133 may allow tumour cells to survive in this situation. Understanding how CD133 works to keep tumour cells alive will help to shed light on functions in context of cancer cell survival and therapeutic resistance.


Research paper title: CD133: glycosylation is enhanced by hypoxia in cultured glioma stem cells.

What we’ve learnt: When tumour cells are starved of oxygen the protein CD133 is activated. This may be a response mechanism to help tumour cells survive when oxygen levels are low. Interfering with CD133 may help to kill tumour cells by stopping them from surviving when oxygen levels are low, such as in the middle of a tumour.


Research paper title: The effect of tricyclic antidepressants on cutaneous melanoma cell lines and primary cell cultures.

What we’ve learnt: Tricyclic antidepressants are a class of drug that is effective in treating a number of tumours. In this case, melanoma (skin cancer) cells were treated with tricyclic antidepressants, including clomipramine, and the results were found to be better than with a currently used melanoma drug. Melanoma carries a higher than average risk of metastasising and spreading to the brain, thus understanding how these drugs work against this type of cancer will be an important step for devising future treatments for the prevention and cure of brain tumours.


Research paper title: The in vitro assessment of alkylglyceryl-functionalized chitosan nanoparticles as permeating vectors for the blood-brain barrier.

What we’ve learnt: Nanoparticles are small particles that can help to carry drugs across the blood-brain barrier so that tumours can be treated more effectively. By attaching various molecules to nanoparticles, drugs can move across the blood-brain barrier more easily. This may lead to more effective treatment of brain tumours.


Research paper title: Receptors for hyaluronic acid (CD44) and poliovirus (CDE155): a combinatorial role in glioma invasion?

What we’ve learnt: Two receptors found on the cell surface of gliomas have been shown to play an important role in tumour invasion in the brain. CD44 and CD155 are likely to be involved in tumour cell movement and invasion. These receptors may be potentially targeted by drugs used to treat tumours and could specifically prevent invasion of tumour cells.


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