Health Minister responds to brain tumour questions

1 min read

Health Minister Lord Bethell has replied to a letter from the Chair of the Petitions Committee, Catherine McKinnell MP, that was sent to him following the Petitions Committee evidence session on brain tumour and childhood cancer research conducted on the 27th May.

In a wide-ranging letter, Ms McKinnell asked questions on areas such as basic research, international research collaborations, medical research charity funding, childhood brain tumours and future commitments. It was noted that new initiatives “are having a positive impact and laying the foundations for more high-quality UK-based future research in this field”, but that “it is equally clear that there remains much more to be done in many areas – in particular, when it comes to promoting basic research into brain tumours, and research into childhood brain tumours with the worst survival outcomes”.

Lord Bethell’s response acknowledges that “breakthroughs in basic science are much needed in brain tumour research” and that “Government support for basic science research is led by Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) who know best how to stimulate such research in under-served areas”. Lord Bethell goes on to say: “We are also exploring with UKRI-MRC other ideas with the most promising potential to make an impact in the basic science arena.”

It is this basic science that we at Brain Tumour Research believe will underpin all clinical innovation and that is why our campaigning work is so focused on it.

Lord Bethell concludes: “Brain cancer research will continue to be a priority into the future and we fully expect to be involved in this area of research for the long-term, especially given the efforts of UKRI to develop the basic science space so we have more to work with in future.”

Our Chief Executive Sue Farrington Smith said: “We welcome this response from Lord Bethell. It may not be revelatory but it does help us as we support the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Brain Tumours with their inquiry ‘Pathway to a cure – breaking down the barriers.’

“The Government position is clearly not only to spend the £40 million made available through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) in 2018 – and more if necessary – but it also acknowledges the need for funding the early-stage research at the beginning of the translational pipeline. Without this UKRI funded discovery science there will be no throughput to clinical trials. This reply is joined-up thinking of the type that is needed to unlock the complex problems brain tumours uniquely pose.”

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