There are many reasons to hope for a breakthrough in low-grade brain tumour research within the near future. There were no LGG research projects underway in the UK when Astro Brain Tumour Fund was founded in 2001, we are proud what we have achieved since then.
We have also been greatly encouraged by the increasing number of low-grade glioma research projects successfully completed each year at neuro-oncology research centres around the globe.
If you are looking for previously published research papers on a particular topic, the comprehensive worldwide database is PubMed. In order to access the full text of most of the papers you have to subscribe to the relevant journal in which they were published. However all University Libraries and main City Libraries have subscriptions to those main journals, which enables you to browse the full articles online and then pay the library to print off copies. Many University libraries have an arrangement whereby you can use their facilities, so you may like to speak to your local one to find out what systems they have in place.
One of the easiest ways to view just brain tumour research papers online is to surf BrainLife. Research papers are reviewed before being published in a categorised format, and you can sign up to their regular newsletter to make sure that you never miss a new discovery.
Another website which publishes regular updates about latest research is the American website Clinical Trials and Noteworthy Treatments for Brain Tumors. For regular updates about their ependymoma research, visit the website of the American based CERN Foundation (Collaborative Ependymoma Research Network).
29th April 2023
We are pleased to provide an update on the research projects that Astro Brain Tumour Fund is funding. It is due to our amazing supporters that these projects are happening and the trustees would like to say a huge THANK YOU for helping us make this happen!
Annual Report from Professor Denise Sheer, Blizard Institute, Queen Mary University of London. 23rd April 2023
Molecular regulation of paediatric low-grade gliomas research project
“Firstly, I’d like to thank the Trustees and the supporters of Astro Brain Tumour Fund for their generous funding.
As reported previously, the aim of our research programme is to characterise the molecular changes that lead to the development of low-grade gliomas in children. I am delighted to let you know that we have had a highly successful year with our research focused on two types of children’s low-grade gliomas, pilocytic astrocytomas and glioneuronal tumours. These tumours each have distinct genetic mutations that lead to cascades of biochemical events that cause the cells to grow abnormally. With your support, our student Lewis Woodward has now completed his substantial PhD thesis entitled “Signalling networks in paediatric low-grade gliomas”. In the thesis, Lewis describes the identification and detailed analysis of these biochemical cascades using cutting-edge experimental and computational methods. He will now continue working in our group to conduct further experiments so that we can publish the work in a scientific journal.
Our findings were presented at the International Society for Paediatric Neuro-Oncology conference in Hamburg in June 2022 and the Cancer Research UK Brain Tumour Conference in Sept 2022. I also gave an invited talk on the work at a paediatric low-grade glioma conference at the Dana Farber Cancer Research Institute in Harvard in Nov 2022.
A huge Thank You, once again, to you all. We could not have done any of this without you, and I am looking forward to giving you further updates in the coming year”.
Report from Professor Stephen J. Price BSc MBBS(Hons) PhD FRCS(Neuro Surg.), Clinical Professor of Neurosurgical Oncology, Hon. Consultant Neurosurgeon
Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Cambridge
Higher Cognitive Functions and Return to Work in Low Grade Gliomas
“Over the last few years, we have seen a change in how we treat low-grade gliomas. This has led to improvements in survival. We now need to concentrate on the quality of that survival. As low-grade gliomas predominantly affect young people, keeping them in employment must be a major aim of treatment.
It is well understood that returning to work is important for cancer patients. It provides financial stability, improves quality of life and ensures on going social interactions. A study of cancer survivors showed that only 13% were not able to work 1-5 years after treatment. This rate increases in patients who have disabilities. Patients with brain tumours commonly report disabilities and were most likely not to return to work. For low grade gliomas, studies suggest that 52% return to work in the first-year post-treatment, this increases to 63% by year 2. It still suggests that over a third of low-grade glioma patients don’t return to work by year 2.
One of the main factors that determine if patients will go back to work, is their cognitive function. These are a series of mental process that are required for us to think, remember, plan and concentrate. Executive function accounts for several mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. Deficits in executive function have devastating effects on a patient’s ability to work and attend school, function responsibly in the home, or have appropriate social relations. One major problem is that there is no easy way to screen for this in all patients, so we don’t know if patients are having problems with executive function.
We believe that problems with executive function will be more common in patients who have not returned to work. We plan to investigate this by:
- Producing a survey for the patient group to understand how many patients fail to get back to work and explore some of the reasons for this.
- Develop a method of screening patients for cognitive problems so we can find patients who have problems with executive function.
- See if there are differences in executive function between low grade glioma patients that return to work and those that don’t.
- Use the information we have collected to work out the best way to rehabilitate patients to help them get back to work”
This project commenced in January 2023 and trustees and supporters of ABTF, together with LGG patients and family members, travelled to Cambridge to meet Stephen and his PHD student, Jasmine. We had an interesting and informative discussion on how the project would develop.
Developing Artificial Intelligence Tools to Monitor Low Grade Gliomas
This is the second research project being instigated by Prof Stephen Price – he anticipates that this will commence in a few months’ time – Astro Brain Tumour Fund are also funding a PHD student in respect of this work.