Medulloblastomas are the most common, high-grade brain tumours to affect children and are responsible for almost 10% of all paediatric cancer deaths. Whilst treatments for this tumour type have improved over the past few decades, 40% of patients will not survive.

Our researchers are committed to developing new ways to accurately diagnose and treat medulloblastoma to improve the survival rates for all patients. For more information on medulloblastoma, please see our fact sheet.

Our discoveries in medulloblastoma

So far, our research has focused on identifying which genes are implicated in the development of medulloblastoma and how a patient's prognosis can be anticipated from the genetic 'signature' of the tumour. Pioneering work carried out at Newcastle University, has led to pan-European clinical trials for children with medulloblastoma.

Discovery of genes that predict patient outcomes

Research carried out by Professor Steve Clifford at the University of Newcastle has significantly advanced our understanding of medulloblastomas. The study into the genetic make up of this tumour type has uncovered specific genes which can predict patient outcomes, meaning that treatment can be tailored according to the severity of the tumour. Professor Clifford's research has also led to the discovery that four distinct subtypes of medulloblastoma exist, each with different biological characteristics and patient outcomes.

Current research into medulloblastoma

Understanding an aggressive subtype of medulloblastoma

Professor Clifford and his team are analysing the genetic properties of group three medulloblastomas, a particularly aggressive subtype of the disease with a very poor prognosis. The study is looking for genetic differences between group three medulloblastoma and the other subtypes - SHH, WNT and group 4, which may be linked to tumour growth and have the potential to be new drug targets.

INSTINCT - fighting high-risk childhood brain tumours

Our five year research programme, INSTINCT, led by researchers at Newcastle University, the Institute of Child Health and Institute of Cancer Research, is investigating high-risk childhood brain tumours, including medulloblastoma.

The team at Newcastle University will focus on investigating how specific genes implicated in the development of medulloblastoma are linked to a patients prognosis. This programme aims to develop drugs which target these genes, leading to new clinical trials.