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National brain tumour research funding needs to increase to £30-35 million a year

Brain Tumour Research funds childhood cancer breakthrough

Scientists have found a new way to starve cancerous brain tumour cells of energy in order to prevent further growth.

The findings by Professor Silvia Marino and her team at the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at Queen Mary University of London could see a breakthrough in the way that children with medulloblastoma are treated in future.

Medulloblastoma is the most common high-grade brain tumour in children. Some 70 are diagnosed in the UK each year. Survival rate is 70% for those whose tumour has not spread, but it is almost always fatal in cases of recurrent tumour.

The researchers’ work on how inositol hexaphosphate (IP6), a naturally occurring compound present in almost all plants and animals, inhibits medulloblastoma through suppression of epigenetic-driven metabolic adaptation, is published today by the high impact journal Nature Communications.

Prof Marino from Queen Mary University of London said: “We have identified a novel way that G4 medulloblastoma is able to adapt its metabolism and grow uncontrollably. Significantly, we have also shown how this energy supply can be blocked. These exciting results bring hope of developing new targeted treatments for patients with this aggressive paediatric brain tumour.”

Hugh Adams, Head of Stakeholder Relations at Brain Tumour Research, said: “These very exciting results reveal a new way for epigenetics to control metabolism within tumour cells. It is great news and brings some much-needed hope for the future. There is still some way to go but we hope that a clinical trial could be up and running in as little as two years.”

Peter Gardiner, from Aston Clinton, near Aylesbury, lost his 13-year-old son Ollie to medulloblastoma in November 2017. This April marks six years since his diagnosis.

Ollie’s family generously donated £187,000 to Brain Tumour Research which is funding post-doctoral researcher Sara Badodi who works alongside Prof Marino.

Peter said: “We were overwhelmed by the support of friends, family and strangers who stood by us in our hour of need and came together to help us do the very best we could for our son. It means the world to think that, because of him and the love people showed to us, others might not have to go through what we did.”

Brain Tumour Research acknowledges, and is grateful for, the supportive funding for this research provided by the Medical Research Council (MRC).

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