Food and immune cells; what can they do for us?

7 min read

Review article:

The race to supercharge cancer-fighting T cells This interesting review article discusses the development, role and challenges associated with the use of T cells for leukaemia and solid tumours, including gliomas. The article, published in Nature, includes explanations on how CAR T therapy works and gives a glimpse into the potential of the technology.


Treatment to boost white blood cells may benefit patients with glioblastoma. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine have revealed that a significant increase in myeloid-derived suppressor cells as a result of tumour irradiation could be a cause for the low white blood cell count found in half of glioblastoma patients. The study, published in Science Translational Medicine, went on to test inhibitors of myeloid-suppressor cells and found a significant improvement in survival in multiple mouse models.

The Burden of Surviving Childhood Medulloblastoma: A Population-Based, Matched Cohort Study in Ontario, Canada. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, reported that paediatric medulloblastoma survivors had increased rate of death, stroke and severe hearing loss compared with the general population. They state there is an urgent need to develop risk-stratified therapies for those who are at low to intermediate risk of relapse, reducing long lasting morbidity.   

Ultra-processed food consumption, cancer risk and cancer mortality: a large-scale prospective analysis within the UK Biobank. In this study, published in eClinical Medicine, researchers used UK Biobank records to examine the diets of 197,000 middle-aged adults and monitor the risk of the participants developing or dying from cancer over a period of 10 years. They found that for every 10% increase in ultra-processed food (UPF) in a person’s diet, there was a 2% increase in the risk of developing cancer and a 6% increased chance of dying of cancer, particularly breast and ovarian cancer. They also revealed a 52% increased risk of developing brain cancer when comparing the lowest consumers of UPF with the highest. The study cannot prove cause and effect, but the authors suggested “limiting UPF consumption may be beneficial to prevent and reduce modifiable burdens of cancer”.

Coincidentally, and also taking place at Imperial College, Dr Nel Syed at our Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence is undertaking research into tumour metabolism and the role that the ketogenic diet could play in slowing tumour growth. It would appear that diet may have a part to play in both causation and cure.


First child with aggressive brain tumour treated in international study. The clinical trial, held at the Princess Máxima Center, Netherlands, is for the treatment of diffuse midline glioma (DMG) with the new combination therapy of ONC201 and paxalisib. In a previous clinical trial, some children with DMG with the H3K27M gene abnormality continued to live longer after treatment with ONC201; this trial is looking to combine ONC201 with other drugs to see further improvement.


The Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission is pleased to announce the opening of the application round for the first fully-funded Tessa Jowell Neuro-oncology Fellowship.

The one-year Fellowship is aimed at exceptional applicants near to gaining their certificate of completion of training in medical or clinical oncology, who wish to further specialise in brain tumour treatment and research, for more information click here.  To apply, applicants will be asked to submit an application form and a letter of support from the head of the department at their preferred host institution by 1 March 2023 to and

Clinical Research Fellow - Institute of Cancer & Genomic Sciences – University of Birmingham Successful candidates will be PhD students in the area of paediatric oncology and will undertake project-specific research on one of the below projects.

  • Characterisation of paediatric lymphomas overexpressing CaMK1D.
  • Metabolic and Imaging Characteristics of Senescence in Childhood Brain Tumours.

Research Fellow – Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health  Successful candidates will have experience of conducting research in mouse genetics and/or cancer and/or senescence. The vacancy is to work on a research programme focused on the role of senescence in paediatric low-grade glioma (pLGG).

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