A trailblazing University of Birmingham research project led by one of our Paediatric Oncologists has discovered a new technique to assess the aggressiveness of childhood brain tumours.
Professor Andrew Peet led the five-year study, which was which was funded by Children with Cancer UK, Action Medical Research and The Brain Tumour Charity, that looked into learning more about personalised treatments for brain cancers.
Using biopsies from the tumours of patients treated at the Children’s Hospital from 1998 to 2016 it was found that the level of lipids and glutamine contained were direct indicators of how aggressive a tumour would be. The more glutamine a tumour contains, the less aggressive it is likely to be; the more lipids a tumour contains, the more aggressive it is likely to be.
The study also found a non-invasive technique can be used to measure these concentrations in in routine clinical practice. Using an MRI scanner and technique called Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) to determine the levels of glutamine and lipids tumours.
This new method will allow clinicians to have a more accurate understanding of each individual tumour and how aggressive they are. Crucially, it means patients can have more personalised treatments reducing any adverse effects and improving quality of life.
Better tailoring of such treatments is especially important in children and young people as they are the most vulnerable to the side-effects of radiation and toxic drugs used against the illness.
Professor Peet said:
“It was great to be able to carry out this important piece of research in Birmingham because we have such a large population of patients with samples stored over a long period of time and ready access to details such as diagnosis and treatment.
“We are increasingly rolling this test out to other centres in the UK and beyond so that as many children can benefit from it as possible.
“I’d like to thank everyone involved in this important and potentially transformational study, particularly the children, young people and families who played such a vital part.”