About one-third of childhood cancer deaths in the UK result from brain cancers. The Brain Tumour Charity recently reported that the University of Birmingham, the clinical investigative site, developed a new personalized approach that can help clinicians give more personalized treatments for these children while improving odds and possibly reducing adverse effects. This research centers on the most vulnerable patient population in the UK.
Who were the study sponsors?
In addition to the University of Birmingham, the study was co-funded by the UK’s The Brain Tumour Charity, Children with Cancer UK, and Action Medical Research.
What was the core result of the study?
The breakthrough allows clinicians to offer more precision and personalized treatments for childhood brain cancers. For over five years, researchers analyzed biopsies for the study to understand and analyze, with a high level of precision, their chemical makeup. They found that there was a correlation between the levels of glutamine in a brain tumor and the aggressiveness of the actual tumor.
Moreover, they found a non-invasive technique can be employed to measure these concentrations of glutamine (and lipids) in higher precision than is presently undertaken in routine clinical practice.
What could be the change to the standard of care?
If these study results hold up and are accepted, clinicians can now put patients through an MRI scanner and use a Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) to determine the levels of glutamine and lipids in the tumor.
What is the benefit of this change in the standard of care?
The study sponsors believe that this change in method (thanks to this study) across UK clinical practice will help increase the level of understanding of a child’s brain tumor—how aggressive it is and what course to take—a more tailored approach that can guide the appropriate care and improve the odds for a better outcome for the child.
Moreover, this non-invasive approach benefits young brain cancer patients with high-risk areas, such as the brain stem, who may not ordinarily undergo a biopsy due to the tumor’s sensitive location.
Principal Investigator Comment
Andrew Peet, Professor of Clinical Pediatric Oncology with the University of Birmingham and Birmingham Children’s Hospital reported, “This study is a huge step forward toward the introduction of more personalized treatment for childhood brain tumor patients.” He continued, “Assessing how aggressive these tumors are at an earlier stage will help ensure that treatment is no more toxic than it needs to be, reducing the adverse effects on patients and improving their lives.”
The Study Sponsors
Andrew Peet, Professor of Clinical Pediatric Oncology with the University of Birmingham
Call to Action: Do you live in the UK and want to support research helping children with cancer? Take a look at the sponsors above. They are important organizations. Contribute to their efforts.