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

Interleukin 7, research in the NHS and job opportunities

An immune-boosting protein called interleukin 7 (IL-7) in combination with radiation has shown evidence that it could be considered as a replacement for temozolomide, especially among the nearly 70% of patients who have a type of tumour that does not respond well to this chemotherapy. In a recently published paper in Clinical Cancer Research, researchers explain that current immunotherapies, immune checkpoint inhibitors, work by taking the brakes off immune cells that are already present. Due to many glioblastoma patients having depleted T cell numbers, immune checkpoint inhibitors haven’t been effective. Radiotherapy in combination with chemotherapy can impair patients’ T cells, a type of lymphocyte, which are important in fighting infections. Glioblastoma patients with chronically low lymphocyte counts don't survive as long as patients with higher numbers of T cells. Glioblastoma patients with low numbers of lymphocytes also have low IL-7, a growth factor that supports T cells, although normally, people with low T cells should have a high level of IL-7. This research suggests that giving IL-7 to patients could increase their count of T cells and then have a positive impact on survival.

This Italian surgical study aimed to identify clinical and imaging factors that influence surgical strategy (asleep motor mapping vs awake motor mapping), and that are associated with the best functional and oncological outcomes.  The study aimed to design and validate a “motor mapping score” for guiding tumour resection. The conclusion was that extensive resection of tumour involving the eloquent areas for motor control is feasible, and when an appropriate mapping strategy is applied, the incidence of postoperative motor-praxis deficit is low.

The NCRI Brain Group has published its new three-year strategy to address challenges faced in brain tumour research and improve outcomes for patients with currently unmet needs. At the same time, the group is looking to recruit people passionate about shaping the cancer research landscape to help improve outcomes for people affected by brain tumours. Specifically, they are inviting applications for Chairs and Deputy Chairs of four new  NCRI Brain Group working groups. These time-limited groups have been established to address each of the NCRI Brain Group’s  strategic priority areas:

  • Producing a position paper on the challenges faced in brain tumour research
  • Developing an early phase trial for glioblastoma patients
  • Improving outcomes for patients with unmet needs
  • Improving outcomes for patients with poor prognosis
  • Build and strengthen links with international groups and prioritise opening international studies for UK patients with rarer brain tumours
  • Support and provide guidance for a broad range of research proposals across the brain cancer community

More detail on this opportunity here.

This week there is also a fantastic opportunity for an early career researcher junior PI to launch an independent research programme in neuro-oncology. This is a permanent post funded by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), with the recruitment package funded by Barts Charity. We are very pleased to note that it was initial funding from Brain Tumour Research into Professor Silvia Marino’s team at our QMUL centre that has triggered this additional investment and as Professor Marino told us: “To be able to build on the foundations established by Brain Tumour Research enables us not just to continue but to grow our research capabilities and invest more resource into finding answers to questions about how tumours develop and what new drugs can we discover to stop them.”

Designed to “improve and strengthen the UK clinical trials legislation” to help “make the UK the best place to research and develop safe and innovative medicines” the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has launched an eight-week public consultation on proposals for legislative changes for clinical trials. If you would like to find out more and possibly help shape the future legislation for clinical trials, click here.

The Government’s Health and Care Bill is currently in Committee Stage in the House of Lords and, on Monday evening, the call from the life sciences community for the Bill to enhance research was debated. Last week, the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) and 14 organisations from across the life sciences community developed a briefing for Peers calling for the Bill to incorporate an enhanced research mandate in legislation. The briefing supported amendments calling on eligible NHS organisations to conduct clinical research, and highlighted the benefits embedding research in healthcare would deliver. The briefing can be read here. The amendment was debated, as all amendments must be in the House of Lords, but was not taken forward by the Government. However we are pleased it was discussed and what was said in the debate now becomes record, to be taken forward again at a later date.

Finally, this week some more job opportunities. Dr Omer Bayraktar is leading a new Wellcome LEAP Delta project named “GBM-space” which is looking at how the tumour microenvironment (TME) drives malignant cell states in glioblastoma (GBM) using large-scale spatial multi-omics.There are 3 positions currently being advertised to join this project.

Research Associate - Rowitch Lab (Fixed Term)

Wellcome MRC Stem Cell Institute

Closing 16 Feb 2022


Staff scientist - Glioblastoma Spatial Multi-omics

Wellcome Sanger Institute

Rolling deadline


Postdoctoral Fellow in GBM Spatial Multi-omics

Wellcome Sanger Institute

Rolling deadline

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