Following Tessa Jowell’s death, the government has tonight pledged its renewed commitment to research into brain tumours and announced a doubling of its investment in the field to £40m.
We welcome this promise, which is testament to Baroness Jowell’s extraordinary determination to bring about change for everyone affected by a brain tumour.
In the months following her own diagnosis last year, Baroness Jowell spoke passionately about the need for more flexible or ‘adaptive’ clinical trials – such as the one we are launching later this year for glioma patients – and greater collaboration to improve understanding of the disease.
In her powerful and moving speech in the House of Lords, she also backed our campaign for 5-ALA – the so-called ‘pink drink’, which causes brain tumour cells to glow in the dark and therefore makes them more easily visible to surgeons operating to remove them – to be made available across the UK to any patient who would benefit from its use.
Along with its commitment to invest £40m in a Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Research Fund, the government has reconfirmed in its statement tonight that 5-ALA will be given to all patients who could benefit from its use, regardless of where they are treated.
It has also promised to accelerate the use of adaptive clinical trials and to bring together brain tumour researchers to share their expertise every year in a Tessa Jowell global symposium to identify best practice and priorities in research.
This symposium will build on the work begun by the round table meeting in London in February, which was inspired by Baroness Jowell and organised by the Eliminate Cancer Initiative with the support of Health Minister Lord O’Shaughnessy and Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
In the last nine months of her life, Baroness Jowell used her voice on behalf of our entire community.
The government’s pledge tonight shows that it has been heard at the highest level.
Together with patients and families affected by a brain tumour, we will ensure that pledge is honoured, in order to bring about the real change for which Baroness Jowell fought so hard.