New Centre to tackle brain tumours

The Brain Tumour UK Neuro-Oncology Research Centre at the University of Wolverhampton is combining two teams of experts to identify the genes that trigger the toughest childhood and adult brain tumours and to develop new forms of chemotherapy to attack them.

The charity is launching a £500,000 fundraising target for the first phase of the laboratory’s work and hopes to raise a further million to accelerate the search for new treatments.

“Brain tumours are difficult to reach, very tough and well-protected by special defences. So we’re identifying smart forms of chemotherapy to hit them where it hurts,” said Jenny Baker OBE, Chief Executive of Brain Tumour UK.

Professor John Darling a leading neuro-oncologist and Dean of the School of Applied Sciences at the University of Wolverhampton , said: “There are three key stages to the research. First, by comparing millions of genes from tumours and healthy tissue, we are identifying the genes most likely to cause brain tumours. We’ve made excellent progress in some adult brain tumours already, but there is still much to be done for childhood tumours and rarer adult tumours.

“Second, we’re working out what these problem genes do. For example, they might be blocking a vital process that would normally kill mutant cells or they could help a tumour grow the blood supplies it needs.

“And third, we are testing new chemotherapies to change the behaviour of those genes or stop them working altogether. The support of Brain Tumour UK will dramatically increase the rate at which we can identify and tackle these key genetic targets, to help everyone affected by these brain tumours.”

The laboratory is combining Wolverhampton’s expertise in adult brain cancer with a team from the renowned Institute of Neurology in London led by Dr Tracy Warr, a leading expert in cancerous childhood and so-called “low grade” adult brain tumours.

Dr Warr’s team has already identified a significant gene in nine out of ten cancerous astrocytoma brain tumours. “If this gene could be turned off, it could bring significant benefits to patients with malignant glioma tumours,” said Dr Warr.

Watch the video: New brain tumour centre launched

Further information

For further information please contact Emma Kilvert in the Media Relations Office on 01902 322003, or Trevor Lawson, Head of Communications, Brain Tumour UK on 07976 262388.

1. Brain Tumour UK is the leading, caring charity committed to fighting brain tumours. Our personalised support is available online, on the phone, by email and through friendly support groups. Our scientific research improves the quality of life for brain tumour patients and identifies better treatments. We raise awareness to change things for the better, for everyone affected by a brain tumour.

2. The research centre is based in the University of Wolverhampton’s School of Applied Sciences. The School of Applied Sciences has an excellent national and international reputation for providing high-quality, flexible teaching in all its subject areas, providing you with practical working knowledge for a wide range of careers.

3. Brain Tumour UK’s analysis suggests that around 16,000 people are diagnosed with a brain tumour each year in the UK. A further 32,000 people develop secondary cancer in the brain, arising from cancer elsewhere in the body. The brain is protected by a “blood-brain barrier” which makes it harder to reach tumours with chemotherapies.

4. Jenny Baker OBE joined Brain Tumour UK in 2006 after losing her eldest son, Stephen, to a brain tumour in 2004, when he was aged just 24.

5. Professor John Darling is Dean of the School of Applied Science at the University of Wolverhampton. He is one of the UK’s foremost neuro-oncology researchers, a former President of the British Neuro-Oncology Society and a leading member of the Brain Tumour North West research group which combines expertise and resources to accelerate brain tumour research in the north west of England.

6. Dr Tracy Warr joins the University of Wolverhampton as Brain Tumour UK’s Reader in Neuro-Oncology from the Department of Molecular Neuroscience at the Institute of Neurology in University College, London, where she established its molecular neuro-oncology research programme. A leading expert in the molecular genetics of brain tumours, Dr Warr is also a referee for many of the leading neuro-oncology journals and for the grant-awarding bodies of the Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK.

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