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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 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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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 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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Prof. Susan Short

Cancer-killing viruses offer fresh hope in the fight against high grade gliomas

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Professor Susan Short

Cancer-killing viruses offer fresh hope in the fight against high grade gliomas

Professor Susan Short and her team are studying a non-toxic virus which only 'invades' and kills tumour cells. The viruses can also be primed with anti-cancer drugs to increase their destructive potential.

New methods to deliver drugs to the brain are urgently needed as many drugs are unable to reach the tumour site as they cannot pass through the protective barrier that separates the brain from the bloodstream. Current treatments also cause serious side effects as the do not target the tumour specifically and therefore damage healthy cells.

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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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Dr Steve Pollard

Linking glioblastomas to DNA-protein parcels

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Dr Steve Pollard

Linking glioblastomas to DNA-protein parcels

Dr 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 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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Professor Anthony Chalmers

Repurposing drugs to treat glioblastoma

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Professor Anthony Chalmers

Repurposing drugs to treat glioblastoma

Previous research has demonstrated that olaparib, a drug currently used to treat ovarian cancer, has also been effective in controlling glioblastoma brain tumour growth. Olaparib works by blocking the DNA damage repair mechanism in our bodies, preventing the tumour’s ability to heal itself after it’s been damaged by treatment.

With our funding, the research team, led by Professor Chalmers, will carry out a phase 1 clinical trial to test olaparib in combination with the current standard of treatment, which currently consists of surgery, followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The aim of a phase 1 clinical trial is to figure out the dose of the drug and any side-effects to ensure the drug is well-tolerated.

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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 Thomas Millner

Understanding the events initiating glioblastoma

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Dr Thomas Millner

Understanding the events initiating glioblastoma

In order to treat glioblastomas, it is important to understand the characteristics and the events initiating this tumour type. As part of his clinical research training fellowship, Dr Thomas Millner is researching epigenetic modifications, an important aspect of glioblastoma development.

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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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Prof. Colin Watts

Amplifying drug delivery across the blood brain barrier using injectable gels

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Professor Colin Watts

Amplifying drug delivery across the blood brain barrier using injectable gels

Professor Colin Watts and his team at the University of Cambridge are testing drug-containing gels as a new delivery method for the treatment of high grade brain tumours.

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Dr Phedias Diamandis

Using computers to make more accurate diagnoses

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Dr Phedias Diamandis

Using computers to make more accurate diagnoses

In 2016 the World Health Organisation (WHO) released their new recommendations on how to diagnose brain tumours. In addition to descriptions of how the different tumours look down the microscope, for the first time they included molecular tests for some types of tumour. This shows the value of new technologies in making more accurate diagnoses.

With this in mind, Dr Diamandis and his team will be developing a complex artificial intelligence (AI) program to provide a step change towards the next generation of diagnostic tools.

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Dr Alasdair Rooney

Reducing the effects of fatigue

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Dr Alasdair Rooney

Reducing the effects of fatigue

In researching our quality of life publication, Losing Myself: The Reality of Life with a Brain Tumour, we found that fatigue was a factor in two out of every 3 people with a brain tumour, and that for 40% of people rated their fatigue as severe. The work by Dr Rooney and his colleagues will aim to address this through an intervention study.

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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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Dr Lee Wong

Investigating tumour initiating events

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Dr Lee Wong

Investigating tumour initiating events

Previous research has demonstrated that chromatin regulation is often disrupted in many cancers. Mutations, or changes, in histone proteins leads to the initiation of many cancers, including gliomas.

The aim of the research, led by Dr Wong, is to understand the role of a specific histone protein, called H3.3, and how changes in this protein drive tumour growth.

Survival rates for individuals diagnosed with gliomas depend on a host of factors, but only 19% of adults diagnosed with a brain tumour survive for five years after their diagnosis. So it’s important that further research is done to inform our understanding of how and why these tumours start.

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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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Dr Sophie Thomas

Rebuilding a meaningful life for young people

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Dr Sophie Thomas

Rebuilding a meaningful life for young people

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a psychological intervention with a broad focus. Dr Sophie Thomas aims to assess the feasibility and acceptability of ACT to help young people, aged 11-24 years, who have survived a childhood brain tumour.

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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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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

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.

Find out more

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Dr Paul Brennan

Uncovering tumour transition

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Dr Paul Brennan

Uncovering tumour transition

Dr Brennan is looking at how and why some low grade gliomas change into high grade gliomas.

By undertaking tests on low grade cells, he hopes to define the biomarkers (indicators, such as genes, molecules or other biological substances found in blood or cells, which can be used to measure or diagnose a tumour) that are changing the cells.

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Dr Phedias Diamandis

Using computers to make more accurate diagnoses

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Dr Phedias Diamandis

Using computers to make more accurate diagnoses

In 2016 the World Health Organisation (WHO) released their new recommendations on how to diagnose brain tumours. In addition to descriptions of how the different tumours look down the microscope, for the first time they included molecular tests for some types of tumour. This shows the value of new technologies in making more accurate diagnoses.

With this in mind, Dr Diamandis and his team will be developing a complex artificial intelligence (AI) program to provide a step change towards the next generation of diagnostic tools.

Find out more

share this

Dr Alasdair Rooney

Reducing the effects of fatigue

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Dr Alasdair Rooney

Reducing the effects of fatigue

In researching our quality of life publication, Losing Myself: The Reality of Life with a Brain Tumour, we found that fatigue was a factor in two out of every 3 people with a brain tumour, and that for 40% of people rated their fatigue as severe. The work by Dr Rooney and his colleagues will aim to address this through an intervention study.

Find out more

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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 Lee Wong

Investigating tumour initiating events

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Dr Lee Wong

Investigating tumour initiating events

Previous research has demonstrated that chromatin regulation is often disrupted in many cancers. Mutations, or changes, in histone proteins leads to the initiation of many cancers, including gliomas.

The aim of the research, led by Dr Wong, is to understand the role of a specific histone protein, called H3.3, and how changes in this protein drive tumour growth.

Survival rates for individuals diagnosed with gliomas depend on a host of factors, but only 19% of adults diagnosed with a brain tumour survive for five years after their diagnosis. So it’s important that further research is done to inform our understanding of how and why these tumours start.

Find out more

share this

Dr Sophie Thomas

ACT for young people

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Dr Sophie Thomas

ACT NOW (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Neuro-Oncology Wellness

Find out more

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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.

Learn more

share this

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