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Research News

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

Plymouth NF paper, microvessels and deep learning

A new publication by the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at the University of Plymouth could help patients with a genetic condition closely linked to brain tumours. Published in the journal Neurology, the paper highlights the importance of personalised medicine in developing more effective, targeted treatments for the nervous system disorder neurofibromatosis (NF). The publication is of significant interest to the brain tumour community because as many as 9% of patients diagnosed with a particular form, NF1, go on to develop brain stem glioma.

Creating ‘humanised’ in vitro models to study brain cancers using patient-derived cancer cells, could improve our understanding of how cancer sub-types, and the microvessel environment, drive chemo-resistance. Researchers have developed a 3D microvessel-on-a-chip device for the study of glioblastoma which could lead to the rapid testing of new drugs and therapeutic approaches.

There is evidence that many adults with brain tumours are living longer, but they do face the risk of a serious complication: acute ischemic stroke (AIS). The risk of AIS is twice as high for patients with cancer than for the general population, and brain tumour survivors, in particular, have a seven-fold increased risk.

We are very pleased to announce that Brain Tumour Research has joined the Neurological Alliance and you can read our blog on their website here

The six most common intracranial tumour types are high-grade glioma, low-grade glioma, brain metastases, meningioma, pituitary adenoma and acoustic neuroma. These are traditionally documented through histopathology which requires surgically removing tissue from the site of a suspected cancer and examining it under a microscope. Now, according to a recently published study, a team of researchers have developed a deep learning model that is capable of classifying a brain tumour as one of six common types using a single 3D MRI scan.

Two TV news reports from the US now. Firstly,  an Ommaya reservoir - a silicone device placed under the skin – is delivering chemotherapy directly to the cancer in the brain of a patient and secondly “We’re basically peeling off her entire temporal lobe” says this neurosurgeon as he uses neuronavigation, fibre tractography and interoperative MRI scanners and combines all the images, to create a highly detailed map of his patient’s brain. “When I’m doing the surgery, this is projected in three-dimensional space to my eyes through the microscope” the surgeon continues and the results and improved patient prognosis are indeed impressive.

From China comes the methods, results and conclusion from a study that had the objective of revealing the potential function of methylenetetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase 2 (MTHFD2) and emphasising its importance in low-grade glioma.

Results from this pan European study demonstrated that dynamic susceptibility contrast-MRI (DSC–MRI) radiogenomics coupled with dynamic-based image standardisation techniques, hold the potential to provide increased predictive performance in glioma. By offering models that generalise well, they also have the potential to provide the reasoning behind the IDH mutation status predictions, and interpretability of the radiomics features’ impacts in model performance.

Two pieces of industry news as firstly a breakthrough has been claimed by cancer diagnostics firm and University of Strathclyde spinout company, Dxcover, which could have moved early detection of brain cancer one step closer. The company has shown that “its innovative testing technology, the Dxcover® Liquid Biopsy, is effective even in the earlier days of cancer growth, at a smaller volume and lower stage.” Secondly, Noxopharm Ltd has set out to explore a new approach to treating brain cancer in a collaboration with the US National Cancer Institute (NCI). The clinical-stage drug development company has signed a cooperative research and development agreement based on a new family of anti-cancer drugs, designed by Noxopharm scientists, with a dual anti-cancer action tailored to combat aggressive tumours, including brain and pancreatic cancers, by blocking ‘helper’ signals from surrounding healthy tissue that plays a key role in an aggressive cancer’s growth.

Finally this week a blog piece that should be of interest to everyone reading this as my colleague Norman Freshney details the important role that charities play in developing and supporting clinical trials

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