Pioneering charity Brain Tumour Research has been awarded a £150,000 grant over three years by London Freemasons.
The six-figure sum will support vital research into glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), one of the most common and deadliest forms of brain tumour, in a project undertaken at the charity’s Research Centre of Excellence in London. Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.
The grant from London Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, thier families and friends, from across England and Wales.
Professor Silvia Marino, who leads the charity’s Centre at the Blizard Institute in Queen Mary University of London, will be collaborating with colleagues at University College London’s Institute of Neurology to study the epigenetics of neural stem cells and high-grade gliomas.
In the UK, 16,000 people each year are diagnosed with some form of brain tumour, with less than 20% of brain tumour patients survive beyond five years of diagnosis. There is no cure available at present for a glioblastoma brain tumour, with patients facing a poor prognosis.
This research will apply state-of-the-art techniques to study the cells that convert to form glioblastoma in order to identify what it is that initiates this switch. They will particularly focus on stem cells, which are found in almost every organ in the body. Stem cells can develop correctly into most types of specialised cells, such as skin, blood or brain cells, but they can also change to form tumours.
Prof. Silvia Marino said: “This new funding allows us to take our work to the next level, so we can identify and characterise the key drivers of glioblastoma growth inside the brain. This will pave the way for novel drugs designed to kill specifically the cancer cells - precision therapeutics which will stop the tumour in its tracks, and have fewer toxic side effects.
“Although we are at the very early stages, this could have obvious eventual benefits to patients. If we are able to develop new insights into how and why brain tumours grow, then that is the first step towards innovative therapies for the future.”
Brain Tumour Research, which receives no Government funding, is the only national charity in the UK focused on funding sustainable research to find a cure for brain tumours.
Sue Farrington Smith MBE, chief executive of Brain Tumour Research, said: "We are incredibly proud of the ground-breaking research going on at our Centres of Excellence across the country. The charity is very grateful to the Masonic Charitable Foundation for this generous grant to support our scientists as they work towards a cure for brain tumours.
“This guaranteed multi-year funding will help to accelerate the work at Queen Mary University of London and increase the chances of long-term survival of patients diagnosed with a glioblastoma. We will continue to campaign and fundraise to significantly boost the national investment in research for this neglected cancer and offer hope for patients and their families.”
Adrian Fox from London Freemasons, who met GBM patient Tanya Malpass during a visit to the Research Centre of Excellence, said: “We’re very pleased to be able to support this hugely important research project. It’s extremely encouraging that there’s now real hope for effective treatments for the many thousands of people who are diagnosed every year with these deadly tumours.”