New hope for brain cancer patients as Imperial College Healthcare selected for million pound research partnership

The brain cancer service at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has been chosen to join a network of Brain Tumour Research Centres of Excellence to help drive forward ground-breaking research into the disease which is the biggest cancer killer of adults under 40 and children.

The research and fundraising partnership with the charity Brain Tumour Research aims to raise £1 million a year towards new studies involving clinicians at the Trust’s neuro-oncology unit at Charing Cross Hospital and scientists from Imperial College London.

This collaboration is one of three ground-breaking partnerships which the charity announced today (4 March) at Westminster. Patients, carers, clinicians, scientists and representatives from charities across the country attended the launch at Speaker’s House where the initiative was formally announced to MPs.

The aim is to achieve a £20 million investment in brain tumour research over the next five years building on the successful partnership model already established at the University of Portsmouth Research Centre of Excellence. The charity plans to establish seven research centres across the UK, building a ‘critical mass’ of research teams to bring the country to the forefront of international brain tumour research. The other two partnerships announced today involve the Blizard Institute at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, and Plymouth University Schools of Medicine and Dentistry.

The partnership with Imperial College Healthcare will contribute to trials led by Mr Kevin O’Neill, a consultant neurosurgeon and head of neurosurgery at the Trust, and a team of world-class researchers to investigate the biology of tumour metabolisms to further understand the behaviour of this disease. The team will also be able to extend their use of innovative 3D real time surgical imaging.

The new partnerships were launched following a novel and robust selection process including consideration of the viability of research programmes by the charity’s Scientific and Medical Advisory Board and the completion of a series of stringent international peer reviews.

Mr O’Neill said:

“I am delighted that our brain cancer service at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has received such a fantastic endorsement of our work and that we will be partnering with Brain Tumour Research to take forward research into new and better treatments for this disease which results in 16,000 new cases in the UK each year. 

"Our clinical expertise revolves around surgical imaging and visualising tumours in 3D during surgery. We are developing technology that can give the surgeon a molecular fingerprint of the tissue they are working on to identify tumour instantly. This promises to be the most sensitive way of differentiating tumour from normal brain. We can then map this information onto the 3D images leading to much more accurate tumour removal without harming the patient’s brain. This new partnership will enable us to research and advance these developments to improve survival rates.”

Sue Farrington-Smith, chief executive of Brain Tumour Research, said: “Today we are forming a powerful new network of researchers in order to accelerate progress in brain tumour research and make a clinical difference. All involved share a vision of a sustainable and secure research environment for brain tumours in the UK, ultimately creating better futures for all those diagnosed and living with a brain tumour. We are determined to do all we can to achieve this, and to one day finding a cure for this devastating disease.”

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