Current research into brain and nerve cell tumours
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Saving lives through our research
We have pledged to tackle brain tumours as a top priority – it’s one of four ‘hard to treat’ cancers outlined in our 2014 strategy. We’re tackling brain and nerve cell tumours from all angles, studying the underlying biology of the disease and testing new treatments in clinical trials. Below are some examples of what our researchers are doing right now.
Our current researchers
Developing new treatments
In Glasgow, Professor Anthony Chalmers is an expert in developing new treatments for glioblastoma – a fast-growing type of brain tumour. He is leading several clinical trials testing new targeted drugs called PARP inhibitors in combination with radiotherapy and the chemotherapy drug temozolomide. The aim is to see if PARP inhibitors make the radiotherapy and temozolomide work better. His overall aim is to help people with glioblastoma live longer.
Improving treatment with palladium
In Edinburgh, Dr Paul Brennan is a neurosurgeon who also researches glioblastoma, a type of brain tumour. With a Cancer Research UK Pioneer Award, he is studying the potential of inserting palladium beads during brain surgery to improve how chemotherapy is targeted to the tumour. After surgery, patients would be treated with a drug that is only activated by the palladium beads. It’s early research, but in future this could allow doctors to use higher doses of chemotherapy after surgery. This could help improve survival and also result in fewer side effects.
Tackling hard to treat tumours
Dr Simona Parrinello in London researches how healthy nerve cells are made. Now, with Cancer Research UK funding, she is applying her expertise to brain tumours. In particular, she’s looking at glioblastoma which has cells that can develop like healthy brain cells. She hopes to shed light on how glioblastoma develops and spreads, and why sometimes treatment stops working.
Finding new drug targets
Dr Steven Pollard in Edinburgh is studying how normal brain cell growth is controlled and how it goes wrong in glioblastoma, a type of brain tumour. He’s focusing on two groups of molecules which control how brain cells grow and which could be targets for new treatments. His research will help us understand how these molecules work and identify ways to develop drugs to target them.
Taking on childhood brain tumours
Professor Richard Gilbertson is Director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre and is an expert in childhood brain tumours. His lab is analysing the genes of thousands in brain tumours to pinpoint the mistakes that help them grow. He is also looking at how healthy brain cells develop. His lab is using this knowledge to generate new treatments by matching them to the biology of a child’s specific type of brain tumour.