Last month we met with childhood and adult brain tumour researchers at an event hosted by the British Neuro-Oncology Society (BNOS).
It was great to talk through the challenges facing brain tumour research and learn about some exciting new developments in the field.
Here are our four key takeaways from BNOS 2014:
1. Brain tumour research funding is unbalanced
Opening the meeting, Professor David Walker highlighted that in the UK brain tumour research receives just one per cent of cancer research funding. This is despite the fact that brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under 40, something we sought to address in our Brain Tumour Appeal earlier this year.
Professor Walker gave cause for optimism by talking about some exciting upcoming developments that have the potential to have a big impact on brain tumour patients, including proton beam therapy and intra-operative MRI scanners, one of which we are currently helping to fund.
2. Rehab is key
Children and adults with brain tumours can be left with a huge range of issues, resulting from the tumour itself and/or their treatment. This can be physical (motor, sensory, speech), cognitive, psychological and emotional, or any combination of the above. Because children’s brains are still developing, rehabilitation is crucially important for children with brain tumours. We also spoke at the meeting of how rehabilitation should be integral to care and needs to start as soon as possible in a patient’s treatment.
3. The ‘era of Omics’
It may sounds like the title of a Transformers movie, but a presentation on Paediatric Neurooncology in the era of Omics by Professor Stefan Pfister of the German Cancer Research Centre was a great insight into how Omics (i.e. collecting and analysing more detailed biological information about a person) can help to make an accurate diagnosis of a brain tumour.
This has the potential to have a big impact on brain tumour research as establishing a correct diagnosis is the most important step in a patient’s treatment and key to successfully treating a brain tumour, so we hope that it is something that we can utilise in the UK.
4. It’s good to catch up
The meeting was also a great chance to catch up with some researchers who are working to drive forward our Brain Tumour Initiative, a £1.5million investment in brain tumour research which we announced earlier this year. With this initiative we hope to maximise progress in childhood brain tumour research through the sharing of samples, data and expertise, both nationally and internationally. We expect to award the first grants of this initiative to researchers towards the end of 2014 so we’re really excited to see the development this will bring to childhood brain tumour research
Talking with colleagues has given us cause to be optimistic that we can make good progress in brain tumour research future.
Read more: Our Brain Tumour Initiative | Daisy’s story