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Research News

National brain tumour research funding needs to increase to £30-35 million a year

A urine test, surgery for the elderly and Mozart

by Hugh Adams

A recent study has reported that microRNAs in urine could be a promising biomarker to diagnose brain tumours and by extension regular urine tests could help early detection and treatment of brain tumours, possibly leading to improved patient survival. Urine-based liquid biopsy hadn't been fully investigated for patients with brain tumours, because none of the conventional methodologies can extract microRNAs from urine efficiently in terms of varieties and quantities. Click through to the link above to find out more on the development of a device capable of doing just that.

In March we were proud to report on the important work of our Plymouth Research Centre to identify non-invasive biomarkers of different grades of meningioma.

External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) is most commonly used to treat brain tumours. The radiation is typically delivered by a linear accelerator which irradiates from the outside in, consequently traversing innocent bystander tissue as it enters and exits the body. Inevitably, there are side effects associated with this but for radiation oncologists and their patients, the potential toxicities of EBRT are accepted to improve the chance of improved tumour control. However, there are opportunities to augment the therapeutic ratio beyond traditional EBRT methods which could offer a leap forward in radiation therapy for brain tumours.  Internally delivered radiation therapy, or brachytherapy, where radioactive seeds are placed directly into the brain, has many theoretical advantages. With internally delivered radiation therapy, there is no irradiation of innocent bystander brain tissue from entering or exiting beams. When delivered intraoperatively, brachytherapy confers targeted and immediate treatment, rather than the several-week delay for surgical wound healing that is required prior to initiation of EBRT, during which residual tumour cells may have the opportunity to grow. Click through to read more.

Whilst looking at radiotherapy you may be interested to read a report from Rutherford Health released this week on Proton Beam Therapy - Breaking Cancer Barriers: Proton Beam Therapy in the UK

This was reported on in The Sunday Times but for more in depth coverage of this story on personalised therapy for aggressive brain cancer showing promising results it is worth clicking on this link.

The primary treatment for meningiomas is surgery. Since the risks associated with surgical treatment increase as people get older and develop other diseases, over 80-year-old patients with brain tumours are not operated on almost anywhere in the world. However according to results from Finland carefully considered surgical treatment appears to be beneficial even for elderly brain tumour patients.

Industry news from Servier who have announced promising Phase 1 Data for Vorasidenib in IDH Mutant Low-Grade Glioma. Clinical Cancer Research has published data from its Phase 1 study evaluating single-agent Vorasidenib in isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) mutant advanced solid tumours, including low-grade glioma. Vorasidenib is an investigational, oral, selective, brain-penetrant dual inhibitor of mutant IDH1 and IDH2 enzymes. In the first-in-human study Vorasidenib demonstrated both a favourable safety profile at doses <100 mg once daily and preliminary clinical activity in recurrent or progressive IDH1/2 mutant low-grade glioma. The study data demonstrated a median progression-free survival of 36.8 months (3.1 years) [95% confidence interval (CI), 11.2–40.8 months] for patients with non-enhancing low-grade glioma.

The failure of existing assays to accurately predict patient specific responses to treatment may be based on accuracy and the inability to present results in an actionable timeframe. Using a new approach researchers validated an assay that prospectively and accurately predicts response to first-line chemotherapy in newly diagnosed ovarian cancer patients with results returned within a week of a patient’s surgery and a clinically meaningful positive predictive value of 100%. Based on these outcomes in ovarian cancer researchers modified their platform technology to facilitate testing in high-grade gliomas and analytically and clinically validated the new assay  for the individualised selection of chemotherapy specific for these tumours.

In the US, the manufacturer of Lomustine [Gleostine] has removed it from the Medicare drug rebate programme, a move that could have consequences for patients. The drug from NextSource Biotechnology is used to treat glioblastoma and other brain cancers and can cost as much as $1,000 a capsule. The Gleostine patent has expired, but there is no generic version. Lomustine [Gleostine] is one of only three FDA - approved chemotherapies for patients with glioblastoma and the one that most patients receive when their tumour progresses on first-line temozolomide chemotherapy.

The NCRI, of which Brain Tumour Research is proud to be a member, has created an Early Career Researcher Forum, which will enable early career researchers to build collaborative networks in their field of interest whilst enhancing their skills and supporting career development through training, mentoring, networking and research involvement opportunities.

Finally, this week we know that epilepsy can be both a symptom of, and a reaction to clinical interventions for, brain tumours so it is fascinating to read that a study has found listening to Mozart’s Sonata For Two Pianos K448 can prevent epileptic seizures.

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