Current brain tumour projects

Brain and spinal cord tumours (commonly referred to as central nervous system, or CNS tumours) are the most common solid tumour to occur in children, with around 400 new cases every year in the UK.

The overall five-year survival rate for childhood CNS tumours is 75 per cent. However, this rate varies widely according to the type of tumour, its grade, size and location.

CNS tumours account for the highest number of childhood cancer deaths – claiming the lives of around 100 children every year in the UK. Those who survive can be left with serious, life-limiting problems as a result of the tumour and its treatment.

Read more: Brain and spinal tumours

More research is desperately needed to improve our understanding of childhood brain tumours and improve the outlook for young patients. Our current projects are listed below.

Understanding treatment-resistance and disease-spread in childhood gliomas

Isabelle Gore 10 October 2016
Professor Chris Jones, The Institute of Cancer Research

Paediatric glioblastoma and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma are two of the most terrible forms of brain tumour to affect children, both incurable using existing treatments. The aim of this project is to advance understanding of how these tumours resist treatment and spread through the brain. This ultimately leads to the possibility of identifying new drugs that will improve the outcome for young patients with these tumours.

Amount of grant: £258,458 | Date of award: July 2016 Overview Paediatric glioblastoma (pGBM) and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) are devastating brain tu...
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Evaluation of B7H3 as a novel target for immunotherapy in childhood cancer

Isabelle Gore 24 May 2016
Dr Kathleen Birley, UCL Institute of Child Health

Kathleen Birley was awarded a Clinical Studentship in December 2015 - our first such studentship - to support her research into a new immunotherapy approach for childhood cancers.

She is focusing on a protein called B7H3 which is present on cancers including neuroblastoma and the brain tumour DIPG; it is hoped that this may represent a new target for the treatment of these cancers.

Background – the need for new treatments One of the difficulties in developing new treatments for childhood cancers is finding ways to attack the cancer cells without damaging healthy cells. This is an importa...
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Exploring new targets for the treatment of ALT positive childhood cancers

Isabelle Gore 29 January 2016
Dr David Clynes, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford

David was awarded a Paul O’Gorman Research Fellowship in 2015 to support a programme of research that aims to uncover new ways of treating certain childhood cancers known as ALT positive cancers. These include some devastating forms of childhood brain tumours.

His work has the potential to uncover the Achilles heel of ALT cancers, allowing for the identification and/or rational design of new tailored drugs. Background – achieving immortality Cancer occurs through the uncontrolled growth and division of cells, which eventually leads to the development of a tu...
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New MRI techniques to improve diagnosis and monitoring of childhood cancer

Isabelle Gore 29 January 2016
Dr Patrick Hales, UCL Institute of Child Health

Patrick was awarded a Paul O’Gorman Research Fellowship in 2015 to support a programme of research that aims to develop MRI techniques for the earlier identification of high-risk tumour sub-types.

The aim is to enable the early stratification of patients into different treatment groups, so that each patient receives the most appropriate level of treatment. Background – the need for early diagnosis of high-risk tumours A number of childhood cancers still carry a very poor prognosis – including the brain tumours high-grade glioma (HGG), diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) and medulloblasto...
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Identification of cancer stem cell markers in paediatric glioblastomas

Isabelle Gore 15 September 2015
Professor Martin Leach, The Institute of Cancer Research, London

Paediatric glioblastoma is a devastating brain tumour that few young patients survive. The poor outcome has been attributed in part to the presence of a population of cancer stem cells that are resistant to treatment. Professor Leach and colleagues will study the properties of these stem cells to aid the development of new treatment approaches.

Amount of grant: £235,854 | Date of award: May 2015 Overview Paediatric glioblastoma (pGBM) is an aggressive brain tumour that fewer than one in five young patients survive. Despite recent improvements in our knowledge of the biology...
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Understanding the genetics of paediatric glioblastoma

Isabelle Gore 18 May 2015
Dr Steven Pollard, University of Edinburgh

Paediatric glioblastoma is a devastating brain tumour that less than 20 per cent of young patients survive. This collaborative project brings together research teams from the UK, Canada and Sweden to define the role of a recently discovered genetic mutation in paediatric glioblastoma and determine whether it represents a possible target for a new therapeutic approach. The team will also create new cellular models of the disease for on-going drug-discovery efforts.  

Amount of grant: £357,589 | Date of award: March 2015 Overview Glioblastoma (GBM) is an aggressive form of brain tumour with an exce...
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Diagnosing childhood medulloblastomas by improved MRI scans

Isabelle Gore 18 May 2015
Professor Andrew Peet, University of Birmingham

Medulloblastomas are the most common childhood malignant brain tumours and only around 60 per cent of young patients survive. Different medulloblastoma subtypes respond differently to treatment and rapid diagnosis is essential to aid treatment planning. Professor Peet is working with colleagues from other UK centres to develop a new tool to allow rapid, non-invasive diagnosis that can inform critical initial treatment decisions.

Amount of grant: £499,681 | Date of award: March 2015 Overview Medulloblastomas are the most common malignant brain tumours in children. They have a poor prognosis,...
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New tools to improve treatment and care in paediatric craniopharyngioma

Isabelle Gore 18 May 2015
Dr Juan Pedro Martinez-Barbera, UCL Institute of Child Health

Paediatric craniopharyngioma is a brain tumour that has high survival but can leave survivors with very poor quality of life. New, targeted treatments are urgently needed but progress is hampered by our poor understanding of the biology of these tumours. This collaborative project brings together teams from the UK and Germany to help profile these tumours and work towards the development of improved treatments.

Amount of grant: £458,728 | Date of award: March 2015 Overview Childhood craniopharyngioma (ACP) is an aggressive tumour of the pituitary gland that is associated with ...
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BIOMarkers of Ependymomas in Children and Adolescents

Isabelle Gore 18 May 2015
Professor Richard Grundy, Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre, University of Nottingham

Ependymoma is a devastating brain tumour that kills up to 40 per cent of young patients, with little improvement over recent years. BIOMarkers of Ependymomas in Children and Adolescents (BIOMECA) is a unique partnership between leading European ependymoma specialists who are now collecting tumour samples from young patients being treated under the international ependymoma clinical trial. They are aiming to develop new risk categories and work towards the future personalisation of therapy.

Amount of grant: £494,498 | Date of award: March 2015 Overvi...
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Metabolic analysis of the tumour suppressor protein p73 in medulloblastoma

Isabelle Gore 12 September 2014
Dr Maria Victoria Niklison-Chirou
Dr Maria Victoria Niklison-Chirou, Blizard Institute, Centre for Neuroscience and Trauma, Queen Mary University of London

Medulloblastoma (MB) is the most common malignant brain tumour in children. Current treatments include surgery and radio/chemotherapy which can cause significant side effects including neurological, intellectual and physical disabilities.  

The main purpose of this research project is to develop a new treatment for children with medulloblastoma, by studying the protein p73.

p73 plays a central role in the development of the central nervous system and in metabolism. Metabolic adaptation has emerged as a hallmark of cance...
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