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Emily Oliver’s Fighting Fund donates towards pioneering DIPG research

Donations made in Emily’s name, who died of the most aggressive form of childhood cancer, will fund research aimed at improving survival rates for the disease.

Emily Oliver’s Fighting Fund is to donate £200,000 towards diffuse midline glioma (DIPG) research. With this research funding resulting in a unique collaboration between The Brain Tumour Charity and Brain Tumour Research.

About Emily Oliver

Emily Oliver holds up The Brain Tumour Charity flag. Emily Oliver's Fighting Fund was set up in her name

Emily Oliver, a undergraduate from Esher, Surrey, was diagnosed with diffuse midline glioma (DIPG) in January 2018. This aggressive form of childhood brain cancer has a devastatingly poor prognosis of just eight to 12 months.

She underwent NHS standard of care. Even travelling to Germany for privately-funded treatment including a personalised vaccine and radiotherapy, but died 18 months later, aged 21.

For her 21st birthday, Emily set up the Emily Oliver’s Fighting Fund, which she asked friends and family to make donations to instead of buying her presents. Since her death, Emily’s parents, Tim and Debi, have continued to fundraise in her memory, amassing a total of £200,000.

Hope For The Future

Now the couple has identified a suitable research project to fund at Brain Tumour Research-funded Centre of Excellence at the Sutton campus of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, helping to find more effective treatments for the disease.

We will never get over the pain of losing Emily, but knowing we’re doing what she wanted, helping others by funding research into the type of tumour she had, gives us great comfort.   

Debi, Emily’s mum.

The project focuses on the relationship between the gene ACVR1, a known driver of cancer development in DIPG, and the role of cholesterol metabolism in the development of these tumours. 

It hopes to demonstrate the effectiveness of treating them with a combination of ACVR1 inhibitors and new drugs. Which in turn, could be added to existing treatments such as radiotherapy. 

The £200,000 donation from Emily Oliver’s Fighting Fund will support the project in its early stages. From initial concept through the robust series of steps needed to evaluate whether to move combination drugs to clinical trial. Research like this is fundamental in bridging the gap between basic science and clinical benefit for children with high-grade gliomas. 

Chris Jones, Professor of Childhood Brain Tumour Biology at The Institute of Cancer Research, London

“I lead a passionate and dedicated team which is working day in, day out to unravel the underlying biology of these aggressive tumours and hopefully uncover new ways to attack them.  “This funding will allow us to carry out comprehensive preclinical experiments, which we hope will, ultimately, provide evidence for developing these treatments into clinical trials, helping us in our goal to extend the lives of young patients affected by this dreadful disease.”

Chris Jones, Professor of Childhood Brain Tumour Biology at The Institute of Cancer Research, London

A Unique Opportunity

Commenting on the announcement, Dr Michele Afif, CEO of The Brain Tumour Charity said: “We are committed to driving the very best research into the treatment of brain tumours because every day we hear from families desperate for news about kinder options and cures, especially for paediatric brain tumours like DIPG/DMG. 

“Now more than ever, with the cost-of-living crisis ongoing, we need to work even more closely with our partners and collaborators in the field to accelerate cures, which is why this unique partnership involving a project to help move faster towards a cure for DIPG is essential.” 

With Dan Knowles, CEO of Brain Tumour Research adding: “We announced we’d been able to bring forward our plans for a fourth Centre of Excellence at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, with an initial funding agreement of £2.5 million, after receiving a £1 million donation, the largest single donation in our history, during Brain Tumour Awareness Month (BTAM) in March last year.  

“We were pleased to welcome Tim and Debi to the Centre’s official launch last September and are very grateful to them for bringing our two charities together in this way.  

“It seems incredibly fitting to be able to announce this exciting collaboration in our 15th anniversary year and, once again, during BTAM. This project is a key component in the fight against this devastating childhood cancer.”