Researchers from the University of Cambridge will pioneer new, minimally invasive techniques for the diagnosis of medulloblastoma, one of the most common cancerous childhood brain tumours. The funding, provided by The Brain Tumour Charity, will enable scientists to explore a new method of identifying the disease known as wingless medulloblastoma (WNT), which is typically difficult to operate on, but is highly curable with chemotherapy and radiation. Antibodies designed to bind to the WNT-medulloblastoma cells will be used, so that they are visible on a PET scan to help diagnose the condition. Dr Jessica Taylor will lead the research to help protect children from potential long-term damaging effects such as memory problems and speech issues.
Breakthrough in DIPG research
A team led by Professor Adrian Krainer in the USA has made progress in developing a potential therapy for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a devastating form of brain cancer that primarily affects children, using antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) technology. The therapy works by targeting and inhibiting a mutated protein called H3.3K27M. In preclinical studies, the ASO treatment was able to restore the normal function of affected genes, which resulted in decreased growth rates of tumours and improved survival rates in mice with DIPG. Although there is still a long road ahead before the treatment can progress to clinical trials, this progress offers new hope for patients and families affected by this aggressive paediatric brain cancer.
Brain tumour cells heading to International Space Station
The UK Space Agency is funding an experiment to be carried out on the International Space Station, supervised by astronauts for up to six months, seeking to improve understanding of child brain tumours. The Institute of Cancer Research has received £1.2m to research diffuse midline glioma, while the University of Liverpool has been awarded £1.4m to investigate the effects of microgravity on muscles. The experiments will launch in 2025 and are expected to have significant benefits for global healthcare. The equipment will be built by Kayser Space in Oxfordshire.