Translating laboratory discoveries into new and effective treatments that increase survival and quality of life.
Currently, it can take 15 years to get new treatments from the laboratory to the clinic. There can be delays in translating research from the laboratory to clinical trials and further delays in getting new medicine through regulatory approval. During this period, and due to the time lags inherant to the system, those affected by brain tumours are missing out on promising new treatments. We want to change this. We want to get effective treatments to patients faster.
Emerging technologies and novel approaches
There are unique challenges to developing treatments for brain tumours, such as the range and complexity of tumour types and the blood-brain barrier, which prevents many drugs from travelling from the blood into the brain to reach the tumour. We therefore need to adopt novel approaches to treatment and drug delivery, by bringing together researchers from other fields, such as physics and chemistry, to tackle these barriers which are limiting progress in our search for a cure.
We also want to ensure that advances in current treatments, such as surgery and radiotherapy, as well as technological developments including imaging, are applied to improve outcomes for brain tumour patients. Research carried out by Professor Andrew Peet at the University of Birmingham has led to the development of a new scanning technique that can be used to quickly and accurately identify different brain tumours, providing a less invasive method of diagnosis.
After being diagnosed with a glioblastoma in 2012, Richard was willing to try any treatment his medical team could offer, including participating in clinical trials. Unfortunately Richard was unable to find any suitable trials, with the exception of one where he indicted his willingness to be involved yet was not contacted further.
"Even if it was too late to save Richard's life, it might have helped hem to understand a bit more about what he had and how it could be treated in someone else."
Mel, Richard's sister
Increasing the number of clinical trials
Clinical trials are essential for assessing and improving treatments. Therefore, increasing the number of clinical trials running will lead to better treatments and save lives. Currently, less than 3% of adult brain tumour patients within the UK take part in cilnical trials testing new treatments. In comparison, 7.5% of patients are involved in clinical trials across all cancers. This has to change.
We will continue to support early phase feasibility studies which investigate the safety and efficacy of novel treatments and drug delivery methods. Whilst we are not in a position to fully fund larger, late-stage clinical trials, we want to support researchers in the development and design of trials. We will work to bring together funding partners, industry and patients to help facilitate the progression of new treatments to the clinic.
We are currently funding several clinical trials that are looking into novel ways to treat brain metastases or secondary tumours.
Exploring new avenues
In addition to new drug discoveries, there is increasing interest in repurposing drugs which are already used to treat other conditions, including other cancer sites, which may be capable of treating brain tumours. As these drugs are already known to be safe and well-tolerated, they can potentially be accelerated through clinical trials.