Research in to Brain Tumours
Brain Tumours kill more children than leukaemia or any other cancer, kill more women under 35 than breast or any other cancer, kill more men under 45 than prostate or any other cancer, and are the main cancer killer of people under 40.
16,000 people are diagnosed with a primary, malignant brain tumour each year. When other types of brain tumour are factored in, this number will be anything up to 3 times greater. For brain cancer patients the five year survival rate is just 14% and up to 40% of all cancers spread to the brain. However brain tumour research receives only 0.7% of UK national cancer research spending. The laboratory-based element of that is even less.
When Ollie was diagnosed, there was no treatment, no cure. No answers for his family. And no hope.
Five year survival for leukaemia patients is now 80%, compared to 20% thirty years ago, and this is a direct result of the level of funding it has received, along with the success of the Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research charity which currently raises around £22 million annually to support research and clinical trials in that area. However, many people surviving from cancers such as leukaemia, breast and prostate cancer will go on to develop secondary cancers in the brain.
The Ollie Young Foundation helps to funds the research of the Institute of Biomedical and Biomolecular Sciences at Portsmouth University to help bring a similar change of fortune to those diagnosed with brain tumours.
At Portsmouth, the work of the research team concentrates on developing models for the study of primary brain tumours, investigating the mechanisms underlying invasive behaviour in glioma (the most common type of tumour, which forms from the glial cells which support the nerve cells of the brain) and developing new strategies in which mitochondria, rather than cell nuclei, are targeted in order to cause programmed cell death selectively in brain tumour cells while leaving the normal brain unaffected.
Funding a PhD research student costs around £90,000 over 3 years, a post-doctoral research associate costs around £140,000 over 3 years, and equipment can vary from a few pounds to hundred’s of thousands of pounds.
Research will focus on glioblastoma multiforme, which is the specific condition from which Ollie died, although the results may well be of value to other, if not all, forms of brain tumour.
Geoff is Professor of Cellular and Molecular Neuro-oncology at the Institute of Biomedical and Biomolecular Sciences at Portsmouth University and Head of the Brain Tumour Research Cellular and Molecular Neuro-oncology Research Group.
He has also established the South of England Brain Tumour Alliance (SEBTA), was a founder member of the International Glioma Invasion Forum and regularly attends the quarterly meetings of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Brain Tumours at Westminster.
Emily conducted a functional investigation into abnormal cellular metabolism in paediatric glioblastoma at the Cellular and Molecular Neuro-oncology at the Institute of Biomedical and Biomolecular Sciences at Portsmouth University.
She worked under the supervision of Professor Geoff Pilkington and alongside the rest of the research team, on a three-year placement which was wholly funded by the Ollie Young Foundation
Alison joined the Therapeutics group, part of the Cellular and Molecular Neuro-oncology at the Institute of Biomedical and Biomolecular Sciences at Portsmouth University, in February 2016 as a PhD student.
She will be studying the treatment of paediatric glioblastoma and diffuse pontline glioma, using re-purposed drugs in combination with P13K inhibitors. Alison will be working under the supervision of Professor Geoff Pilkington and alongside the rest of the research team, on a three-year placement which has been wholly funded by the Ollie Young Foundation.
Katie joined Prof. Pilkington’s team as a technician in October 2016 after graduating with a BSc in Forensic Biology at the University of Portsmouth and subsequently gained a merit in pass in her MSc Biomedicine.
“My research is looking at the tumour micro-environment of brain stem gliomas. Brain tumours do not exist in isolation, there are a number of different cells, substrates, forces and cytokines involved in helping these tumours develop and survive. I am trying to understand how this not only helps the tumour but also understand if this can result in an altered neuro-development pathway and the creation of a tumour.”