Brain Tumour Centre of Excellence on way in UK

Eight British universities and hospitals are in a bid to become the next Centre of Excellence dedicated to research into brain tumours. The successful institution will enter a funding partnership with the charity Brain Tumour Research. Currently brain tumours receive less than 1 per cent of the national spend on cancer research, despite more children and adults under 40 dying of a brain tumour than any other cancer.

The eight applicants include The Blizard Institute at Barts, Imperial College, Queen’s University Belfast, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, The Walton Centre (Liverpool), The University of Central Lancashire, Plymouth University Peninsula School of Medicine, and Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

The funding partnership will secure key salaried positions at the new Centre of Excellence, freeing the team from the limitations of applying for one specific project grant after another. As specialist brain tumour expertise and knowledge builds across the seven centres, experienced researchers will be able to move between them, collaborating on the best thinking at the cutting edge of research. It is anticipated that, with greater job security through sustained funding, promising researchers will be trained up through the ranks to become the next generation of brain tumour experts, rather than being tempted into other areas of cancer research which currently attract greater funding; a fact reiterated by Professor Geoff Pilkington, Professor of Cellular and Molecular Neuro-oncology, University of Portsmouth, who added: “A deeply worrying consequence of poor research funding for brain tumours is that talented young researchers, otherwise inclined to work in the field, are deterred and end up leaving for alternatives where research spending is more plentiful and better coordinated.

Brain Tumour Research is currently supporting a Centre of Excellence based in The University of Portsmouth, which is the biggest brain tumour laboratory in the UK. Here a dedicated team is looking at the mechanisms that cause tumour cells to invade healthy brain tissue, with the aim that this work will improve survival times for patients and potentially, one day, lead to a cure.

Sue Farrington Smith, Chief Executive of Brain Tumour Research, said: “Opening a second Centre of Excellence will significantly increase the chances of a scientist having that ‘eureka moment’ which could dramatically improve the outcome for brain tumour patients. Only 18.8% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years, compared with an average of 50% across other cancers, and we are determined to do all we can to change this.”

The vision for Brain Tumour Research is to establish seven Centres of Excellence across the country and ultimately to find a cure into brain tumours. Unsuccessful applicants will be able to reapply in the future.

Sue Farrington Smith said: “Helping to raise the £7 million needed to cover the annual running costs of seven Centres of Excellence will be a huge challenge, but we have a strong track record. We will continue to encourage the public to support us, as well as lobbying for a larger share of UK cancer research funding.

Brain Cancer Facts from Brain Tumour Research:

• More children and adults under 40 die of a brain tumour than from any other cancer.
• 73% of brain tumour deaths occur in those under 75 compared to 47% for all other cancers.
• Brain tumours receive less than 1% of the national spend on cancer research.
• 16,000 people each year are diagnosed with a brain tumour.
 Up to 40% of all cancers eventually spread to the brain, with melanoma (skin cancer), breast and lung cancers being the most common to metastasise.
• Brain cancer incidence is rising: 23% higher for men and 25% higher for women in 2012 than in 1970.
 Brain cancer deaths are also rising, unlike most other cancers – these rose 10% for women and 15% for men from 1970 to 2011.
 Only 18.8% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years, compared with an average of 50% across all cancers.
 58% of men and women diagnosed with brain cancer die within a year compared to 5% for breast cancer, 35% for leukaemia and 7% for prostate cancer.
 Brain tumours kill more children than leukaemia or any other cancer.
 Brain tumours kill more women under the age of 35 than breast or any other cancer and 65% more women than cervical cancer.
 Brain tumours kill more men under the age of 45 than prostate or any other cancer
 With more than 120 different types of tumour, brain tumours are a notoriously difficult disease to diagnose.
 Our understanding of other cancers does not readily translate to brain tumours.
 Patient personality changes that can occur as a result of a brain tumour can cause massive family disruption.
Read the latest authoritative report here:

To find out more about Brain Tumour Research go to 
or call 01296 733011.

Nov - Dec 2013 Cancer Watch
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