Weekly pick of brain tumour research news from around the world

1 min read

US researchers have discovered that nicotine enhances brain metastasis by crossing the blood-brain barrier to change the microglia - a type of immune cell in the brain - from being protective to supporting tumour growth. The scientists then looked for drugs that might reverse the effects of nicotine and identified Parthenolide, which may provide a new approach to fight brain metastasis, particularly for patients who have smoked or still smoke. 

The Australian government is to  invest $3 million across four childhood brain cancer clinical trials to improve the quality of life of children living with the condition, and in the long-term, to find a cure to defeat the disease.Childhood brain cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in Australian children, with around 100 children diagnosed each year and an estimated 36 children dying from the disease last year, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

This is an interesting piece of work because pancreatic cancer has similarities to brain cancer in terms of poor prognosis and inadequate research funding so if a drug could be efficacious for Glioblastoma and pancreatic cancer what a win/win that would be.

All clinical innovations and interventions are the result of research and surgery is no different, so a couple of surgical stories here; one concerns our great supporter Jim Murphy and how he took selfies during his craniotomy and read here about an Italian woman preparing traditional stuffed olives during her brain surgery! Remarkable stuff! 

Two per cent of our DNA produces proteins consequently 98 per cent does not encode protein. These non-coding regions contain important information and regulate whether a gene is active in different tissues, in different stages of development and in diseases such as cancer. Relatively little is known about how mutations in non-coding regions drive glioblastoma. Now Swedish scientists have a new method to identify genes that can drive development of brain tumours and they have performed whole-genome sequencing of DNA in tumour tissues from patients with glioblastoma and analysed the identified mutations.  

Fascinating stuff from Japan now as a highly accurate machine learning tool could help doctors tailor individualized treatments for people with glioma brain tumours. The new machine learning approach classifies gliomas into low or high grades with almost 98% accuracy.

Finally this enthralling piece of science journalism starts with a brain tumour image and ends with a meningioma case study and in-between explores how computer algorithms can find a tumours molecular weak spots 

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