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).
PROFESSOR DENISE SHEER – MOLECULAR REGULATION OF PAEDIATRIC LOW-GRADE GLIOMA
We are excited to report that we are about to fund research into paediatric low-grade gliomas headed by Professor Denise Sheer, Professor of Human Genetics, Barts & The London School of Medicine & Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London. We have funded Prof Sheer in the past and are delighted to be supporting her and her team once more. They are based at the award-winning Blizard Institute, which has outstanding scientific facilities and strong expertise in cell and molecular biology (www.qmul.ac.uk/blizard/). Details of the research are below.
Low-grade gliomas account for over 30% of children’s tumours of the central nervous system. Although they are usually slow-growing, paediatric low-grade gliomas cause significant damage leading many children to suffer from long-term health problems. Occasionally they transform into progressive tumours that can threaten life. Surgical removal is the preferred treatment if the tumour is accessible. Cytotoxic chemotherapy and radiotherapy are often used but these agents have many side effects in children limiting their usefulness.
Most paediatric low-grade gliomas have genetic changes that abnormally activate the MAPK/ERK signalling pathway, opening new avenues for treating these tumours using drugs that block the pathway. While many of these drugs are being tested in clinical trials, we still need to understand, firstly, how the abnormally activated MAPK/ERK pathway gives rise to tumour growth and behaviour and, secondly, how the pathway responds to these targeted drugs. Since our characterisation of the BRAF fusion, which is the most common genetic change in paediatric low-grade gliomas (Forshew et al, 2009), we have continued to make contributions to our knowledge of these tumours. For example, we identified how the BRAF fusion is likely to arise (Lawson et al, 2011), contributed to the first major “whole genome sequencing” study of over 150 paediatric low-grade gliomas (Zhang et al, 2013), and profiled their epigenetic alterations supported by the Astro Brain Tumour Fund (Jones et al, 2015; Jeyapalan et al, 2016). More recently, we have conducted an extensive study of proteins and their modifications in two types of paediatric low-grade gliomas, pilocytic astrocytomas and glioneuronal tumours, which contain the BRAF fusion and a BRAF mutation, respectively.
Our proposed research project aims to complete the molecular analysis of these tumours by conducting comprehensive profiling of their gene activity patterns, identifying the regulatory networks in the tumour cells, and understanding how these networks control tumour cell growth.
“We are extremely grateful to everyone at Astro Brain Tumour Fund for this generous funding. Your support will make a huge difference to our research programme and we will use it to do the very best we can to improve our understanding of children’s low-grade gliomas. We are looking forward to working with you and to giving you updates on our progress. Thank you!”