Date Published: 8 November 2006

University children's brain tumour research centre celebrates £600,000 boost

Potentially life-saving advances in treating children and young people suffering from brain tumours are being developed by scientists at the Children's Brain Tumour Research Centre, thanks to major grant funding totalling more than half a million pounds.

The funding of £600,544 from the national charity the Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust means that the centre, based at The University of Nottingham, is now the biggest of its kind in the UK.

Professor David Walker, of the Children's Brain Tumour Research Centre, said:

Every year, hundreds of children are diagnosed with a brain tumour in the UK, yet sources of funding to support vital research into diagnosis and treatment remain limited.

_ It is the generosity of organisations like the Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust that allows us to continue the work that we do which is so important and offers so much hope to the young people and their families who are affected by this terrible illness.

The funding will support several University of Nottingham projects by Professor Walker and colleagues at the Children's Brain Tumour Research Centre Professor Richard Grundy, Dr Paul Scotting and Dr Beth Coyle.

Among the projects to benefit from the cash are:

  • An investigation into ways of shortening the time it takes to diagnose a brain tumour once a patient has presented with symptoms. The study will make recommendations on new practices such as the ordering of brain scans at an earlier stage and faster turnaround on test results and will evaluate the success of this in reducing mortality rates.
  • The development of a new technique called Magnetic Resonance Imaging Spectroscopy that for the first time will allow doctors to gather vital information on the biochemistry of a tumour. In addition to the traditional MRI images, this new analysis will help to develop our understanding of how tumours behave and will have a direct impact on the way in which they are treated clinically. It will allow doctors to make a more reasoned decision on issues such as when a patient needs treatment, the type of therapy needed, the length of the course of treatment and whether the illness is likely to recur.
  • A research programme aimed at understanding the underlying biology of tumours by studying the loss and gain of genes in specific brain tumours and building a genetic profile that could help to give doctors a clearer picture about the prognosis for patients suffering from different types of tumours.
  • A programme to study the resistance of tumours to cancer drugs and to discover whether it begins at a stem cell level or develops later as the tumour grows. This could in turn help in the discovery of new ways to prevent resistance occurring, making drugs more effective.
  • A programme to study which brain cells are the most likely origin for cranial germ cell tumours (GCT) and to establish a model with which to explore how they form at a molecular level. While current treatment of older teenagers with germinoma is very successful with limited, but significant, side effects, new treatments are needed for younger children and those with other types of GCT, where treatment is relatively unsuccessful.


The Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust was founded in 1996 by Neil and Angela Dickson following the death of their daughter Samantha from a brain tumour.

Since 1996, the charity has become the largest single funder of laboratory based brain tumour research in the UK, and offers a vital link for patients diagnosed with a brain tumour as well as their families and/or carers.

The £600,000 grant to the University comes as part of new grants raised by the trust totalling £1.5 million.

Neil Dickson said:

We have worked the Children's Brain Tumour Research Centre over the last few years and are very impressed with their work to date. This new funding now means they are the leading research centre for childhood brain tumour research in the in the UK.

_ The work of the charity and The University of Nottingham is so important as brain cancer now kills more children than leukaemia. Survival rates are also at 60%, far less than the leukaemia survival rate of 85%. This new research should go a long way in helping to improve the survivability of children affected by this devastating disease.

Professor David Walker is due to present his inaugural lecture entitled Cancer During Growth and Development: Views of a Nottingham Graduate on Thursday November 9 at 6pm in Lecture Theatre 1, The University of Nottingham Medical School, Queen's Medical Centre.


Source: Nottingham University.

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