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Adult brain tumour research projects

We fund research into a wide variety of brain tumour types that affect adults.

Research is essential if we are to enhance our understanding of why and how each tumour forms, and what can be done to treat them.

Current high grade brain tumour research projects

Here are the research projects we are currently funding that relate to understanding or treating high grade brain tumours in adults

Professor Anthony Byrne

Quality of Life in clinical trials

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Professor Anthony Byrne

Accurate and effective research into how brain tumours and their treatments affect someone’s quality of life requires consistent and appropriate measures. Until now there has been no clear guidance on which Patient Reported Outcomes (PROs) should be used in clinical trials. This study will define a core outcome set of PROs that encompass the measures most meaningful to people with brain tumours, and those they hold dear.

Dr Pim French

Blocking hypersensitive glioblastoma growth

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Dr Pim French

Blocking hypersensitive glioblastoma growth

In this project Dr Pim French and his team are learning new ways to stop the activation of a protein called epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). When EGFR is mutated in tumours it can be activated too easily, making glioblastomas grow quickly. By blocking this type of EGFR Dr French wants to slow, or even completely stop, tumour growth.

Dr Gelareh Zadeh

Liquid biomarkers for meningioma care

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Dr Gelareh Zadeh

Liquid biomarkers to change meningioma treatment

This project is advancing research into how aggressive meningiomas can be diagnosed and how their treatment responses can be predicted. In collaboration with a major UK-led clinical trial and using advanced artificial intelligence, the team are striving towards tomorrow’s clinical care.


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Dr Veronica Rendo

Making MDM2 drug resistance a thing of the past

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Dr Veronica Rendo

Making MDM2 drug resistance a thing of the past

Dr Rendo is striving to understand how laboratory models of glioblastoma (GBM) become resistant to MDM2 inhibitors and to use this understanding to propose combinations of drugs to overcome or prevent the occurrence of resistance.

Dr Tyler Miller

Understanding how immune cells block glioblastoma treatments

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Dr Tyler Miller

Understanding how immune cells block glioblastoma treatments

In this exciting project, Dr Miller and his team will focus on immunosuppressive cells found in glioblastomas, which are currently believed to be preventing breakthrough immunotherapies from attacking brain tumours.

Dr Spencer Watson

Targeting treatment damage to stop recurrence

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Dr Spencer Watson

Targeting treatment damage to stop recurrence

Dr Watson’s work will explore whether glial scars, formed in response to injury such as radiotherapy or surgery, provide a microenvironment that tumour cells can use as a safe space to relapse from.

Dr Gelareh Zadeh

Targeting clinically challenging meningiomas

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Dr Gelareh Zadeh

Targeting clinically challenging meningiomas

Dr Zadeh and the team are investigating what make clinically aggressive meningiomas (CAMs) and radiation induced meningiomas (RIMs) different, and hard to treat.

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Professor Sebastian Brandner

Nanoparticle Couriers for GBM treatments

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Professor Sebastian Brandner

Nanoparticle Couriers for GBM treatments

When it comes to glioblastoma (GBM) treatments, there two key challenges: effective treatments and how to deliver them across the blood brain barrier. This grant has a fresh approach to both. Professor Brandner’s team are testing whether microRNAs can stop tumour growth when delivered by nanoparticles.

Dr Ola Rominiyi

3D models to understand invading GBM cells

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Dr Ola Rominiyi

3D models to understand invading GBM cells

This innovative research project will develop a new 3D model of glioblastoma (GBM) for lab assessments. The researchers, based in Sheffield, will also use the model to prioritise some of the best potential drugs to enhance current therapies.

Dr Philipp Euskirchen

Working towards a faster diagnosis

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Dr Philipp Euskirchen

Working towards a faster diagnosis

Molecular biomarker testing is becoming routine for people with brain tumours because it provides clinicians with a clearer path to the best available treatment. This project aims to decrease the time it takes to get the tests done, meaning that people have faster diagnoses and start on the best treatments sooner.

Dr Lucy Stead

Using nanobiopsy to see how tumours change during treatment

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Dr Lucy Stead

Using nanobiopsy to see how tumours change during treatment

This project is using advanced technology called nanobiopsy to extract tiny samples from living cells without killing them.

Over the course of treatment, the team - led by Dr Lucy Stead at University of Leeds - will be able to take samples to see how the tumour changes.

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Prof. Thomas Wurdinger

Investigating combined drug treatments

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Professor Thomas Wurdinger

Investigating combined drug treatments

This collaboration, being led from Amsterdam, will also involve UK researchers from the University of Cambridge, the Sanger Institute and IOTA Pharmaceuticals. They will be looking at existing drugs in different combinations. They have sophisticated software that will analyse already-licensed drugs to see which ones could work together to treat Glioblastoma (GBM).

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Professor Steve Pollard

Linking glioblastomas to DNA-protein parcels

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Professor Steve Pollard

Linking glioblastomas to DNA-protein parcels

Professor Pollard and his group are exploiting the latest genome editing technologies that have opened up new opportunities for understanding the biology of glioblastomas (GBM).


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Dr Vincenzo D'Angiolella

Targeting glioblastoma cell metabolism

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Dr Vincenzo D'Angiolella

Targeting glioblastoma cell metabolism

This grant aims to explore and target the increased metabolism of glioblastoma (GBM) cells which allow them to grow so quickly. In normal, healthy cells a lot of genes can cause metabolism to increase or decrease, speeding up or slowing down the cell’s growth.

This research project will help to improve our knowledge of the differences between healthy brain tissue and tumour cells. It will help us better understand the underlying mechanisms driving aggressive glioblastomas, and identify ways in which we can disrupt these interactions with drugs to slow tumour growth.

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Dr Adam Waldman

Predicting patient survival - a new method of MRI

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Dr Adam Waldman

Predicting patient survival - a new method of MRI

Researchers at Imperial College London have developed a new MRI scanning technique that will accurately measure how a tumour is responding to therapy.

The team, led by Dr Adam Waldman, have developed a technique called Diffusion Weighted Imaging (DWI) which measures the properties of water in both the tumour and surrounding brain to detect changes in growth. These changes can be identified at an earlier stage using DWI in comparison with standard MRI.

This technique will now be trialled in newly diagnosed glioblastoma patients across five different brain tumour research centres to confirm whether DWI is a more reliable method than standard MRI.

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Dr Sebastian Serres

Does STAT3 help form a barrier around GBM?

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Dr Sebastian Serres

Does STAT3 help form a barrier around GBM?

This research will allow the study of how tumour cells interact with the surrounding healthy brain. Dr Serres and his team have recently discovered that astrocytes, brain cells that form a physical bridge between neurons and blood vessels, may play a key role in the tumour’s interaction with the healthy brain.

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Dr Jan Schuemann

Extreme dose rate proton therapy

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Dr Jan Schuemann

Extreme dose rate proton therapy

Previous studies have shown that delivering radiotherapy extremely rapidly can dramatically reduce side-effects. Radiation therapy that delivers the same dose of radiation in a much shorter period of time is called extreme dose radiation (EDR). EDR therapy has not been tested using proton beams, and that’s where this innovative research project comes in.

The research team, led by Dr Schuemann, will use pre-clinical models to test EDR proton therapy with the aim of establishing a treatment regimen that’s effective and well-tolerated by people. They’ll compare EDR to conventional radiation delivery and look for any differences in side-effects, specifically looking into the effects on cognition and motor control.

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Dr Gregor Hutter

Manipulating the tumour's environment

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Dr Gregor Hutter

Manipulating the tumour's environment

The environment in which a tumour exists contains several different types of cells. Some of these cell types support tumour growth and promote its spread to other parts of the brain. Microglia are one of the cell types that play an important role in supporting tumour growth. However, researchers have shown that it's possible to manipulate and reprogramme microglia to have an anti-cancer function.

The aim of Dr Hutter's research is to use a combination of drugs to reprogramme microglia to kill glioblastoma cells.

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Professor Neil Carragher

Targeting, treating and defeating glioblastoma

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Professor Neil Carragher

Targeting, treating and defeating glioblastoma

Professor Carragher will adopt a systematic approach to find new drug targets and new drug combinations to treat glioblastomas. In addition to discovering new combinations of drugs, they’ll continue their work by testing drug combinations already discovered by their team.

This grant will allow researchers to suggest new combinations of therapies which have the greatest chance of being effective and well-tolerated in people. We hope that these new therapy combinations will signify a real step-change in the lives of people with a glioblastoma, improving quality of life and length of survival.

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Prof. Martin van den Bent

Updating a major clinical trial

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Prof. Martin van den Bent

Updating a major clinical trial

This grant will enable new analysis of an ongoing international clinical trial, which will impact on the future of clinical trials for people diagnosed with anaplastic glioma.

This research project will play an important role by informing the prognosis for people with anaplastic gliomas. It will also help tailor treatments by identifying which people would benefit from more or less intense treatment and improve quality of survival.

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Prof. Colin Watts

Tessa Jowell BRAIN MATRIX

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Professor Colin Watts

Tessa Jowell BRAIN MATRIX

The Tessa Jowell BRAIN-MATRIX is a first-of-its-kind study that will enable doctors to treat brain tumours with drugs that are more targeted than ever before. We are excited to be investing £2.8 million to set the study up, and to drive it into the future.

Although the trial is being led from the UK, we expect it to deliver global impact for brain cancer patients.

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Professor Roel Verhaak

Tracking and Targeting Glioblastoma

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Professor Roel Verhaak

Tracking and Targeting Glioblastoma

Professor Verhaak aims to understand how extra chromosomal DNA or ecDNA is created and maintained in cancer cells, and will then go on to develop strategies to treat glioblastomas by targeting ecDNA.

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Professor Simona Parrinello

Mapping glioblastoma cells

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Professor Simona Parrinello

Mapping glioblastoma cells

Professor Parrinello, and her colleagues at Imperial College London, aim to understand how glioblastomas spread into the brain and how they use small molecules as messengers to communicate with surrounding cells.

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Dr Stuart Smith

Targeting Glioblastoma drug resistance through RNA methylation

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Dr Stuart Smith

Targeting Glioblastoma drug resistance through RNA methylation

Researchers, led by Dr Stuart Smith in Nottingham, will investigate the levels of RNA methylation in GMB cells and compare them to levels in low grade tumours. They will then test the theory that RNA methylation is responsible for some GBM tumours becoming resistant to current treatments.

Professor Martin Taphoorn

Patient Reported Outcomes to measure treatment success

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Professor Martin Taphoorn

Patient reported outcomes to measure treatment success

An group of international researchers are assessing what Patient Reported Outcomes (PROs) are currently being measured, and whether they're fit for purpose. They'll then be able to influence clinical practice, and clinical trials, to make sure that things that matter most to the brain tumour community are addressed.

Current low grade brain tumour research projects

Here are the research projects we are currently funding that relate to understanding or treating low grade brain tumours in adults

Professor Monika Hegi

MGMT methylation levels predicting treatment response

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Professor Monika Hegi

MGMT methylation levels predicting treatment response

In this project, the researchers will be working to find a biomarker for IDH-mutated low grade gliomas (LGGs). They want to predict which people will get the most, and the least, benefit from temozolomide (TMZ) chemotherapy. They propose that with this knowledge, some treatments, such as radiotherapy, could be reduced or delayed, avoiding side-effects and improving quality of life.

Dr Marion Smits

Monitoring Low grade tumour progression

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Dr Marion Smits

Monitoring Low grade tumour progression

Previous research has shown that in parts of a tumour where the cells are multiplying rapidly, there’s a build-up of certain proteins. This project will use a new and non-invasive imaging technique called Chemical Exchange Saturation Transfer (CEST) to visualise and measure protein build-up in low grade diffuse gliomas.

By measuring and monitoring protein build-up, researchers hope to be able to detect tumour growth and progression sooner and create more effective treatment plans.

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Prof. Colin Watts

Tessa Jowell BRAIN MATRIX

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Professor Colin Watts

Tessa Jowell BRAIN MATRIX

The Tessa Jowell BRAIN-MATRIX is a first-of-its-kind study that will enable doctors to treat brain tumours with drugs that are more targeted than ever before. We are excited to be investing £2.8 million to set the trial up, and to drive it into the future.

Although the trial is being led from the UK, we expect it to deliver global impact for brain cancer patients.

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Prof. Linda Sharp

Self-management for improved quality of life

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Professor Linda Sharp

Self-management for improved quality of life

Professor Sharp and her team will start by looking at the research that has been done into self-management programmes for other cancers, as well as those used currently by brain tumour survivors.

She will look for the aspects of these previous or existing programmes to determine which worked best.

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Dr Jan Schuemann

Extreme dose rate proton therapy

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Dr Jan Schuemann

Extreme dose rate proton therapy

Previous studies have shown that delivering radiotherapy extremely rapidly can dramatically reduce side-effects. Radiation therapy that delivers the same dose of radiation in a much shorter period of time is called extreme dose radiation (EDR). EDR therapy has not been tested using proton beams, and that’s where this innovative research project comes in.

The research team, led by Dr Schuemann, will use pre-clinical models to test EDR proton therapy with the aim of establishing a treatment regimen that’s effective and well-tolerated by people. They’ll compare EDR to conventional radiation delivery and look for any differences in side-effects, specifically looking into the effects on cognition and motor control.

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