‘5-ALA’ (‘pink drink’) will be made available in all neurological centres in England

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The Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) has today confirmed that ‘5-ALA’, more commonly known as ‘pink drink’ or ‘Gliolan’, will be made available in all neurological centres in England, as part of the NHS’ contribution to the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission.  The DHSC claims that 5-ALA will benefit approximately 2,000 patients a year.

5-ALA is a fluorescent dye that is drunk by patients with a high-grade tumour before surgery. As a result of 5-ALA, the cancerous tumour cells will glow pink when examined under ultraviolet light, whilst the healthy cells remain a normal colour. This has two main advantages. Firstly, surgeons can remove more of the cancerous tissue, as it is easier for them to see. Secondly, as surgeons can more easily distinguish the healthy tissue, they can leave this untouched which should mean fewer side effects for patients.

Brain Tumour Research welcomes this announcement, that will bring hope to many brain tumour patients facing surgery. It is thanks to the tireless awareness-raising efforts of the brain tumour community that this innovation is being made widely available.

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Professor Garth Cruickshank, esteemed neurosurgeon and Chair of Brain Tumour Research’s Scientific & Medical Advisory Board, commented: “I am delighted that after more than five years of campaigning, evidence to the House of Commons' Petitions Committee, lobbying by charities, the introduction of the new National Institute for Health & Care Excellence guideline on brain tumours and, crucially, the work of the late Baroness Tessa Jowell that the DHSC has now made 5-ALA available.

“For many patients with aggressive cancerous brain tumours, this will mean that the NHS can offer the very best chance of removing enough of their tumour safely.  In turn, this may increase the impact of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, helping patients live longer and better.”

Professor Cruickshank then mentioned the previously announced additional funding for research into brain tumours from the DHSC and Cancer Research UK“Those of us who look after these desperate patients directly look forward to seeing these funds appearing in support of new treatments."

Brain Tumour Research will never stop campaigning until we have found a cure for this devastating disease and, in our new manifesto, we outline our plans for the next five years. Focusing on key areas of growing research capacity, building research infrastructure and accelerating treatments, we are calling for sustained game-changing annual funding of £35 million a year for research into brain tumours by 2025.

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