Despite the challenging year we have had as a result of the pandemic, I look back now on 2020 with a sense of pride and am looking forward to 2021 with renewed hope.
COVID-19 has proved just how important research is. It has shown that if the research community comes together – funders, scientists, clinicians and pharmaceutical industries – a cure can be found.
A cure can come in many forms: vaccines, drugs, treatments, technological advances and all of these have been found for COVID-19 in just a few months.
The difference between brain tumours and COVID-19 is that we need to find the cause in order to find the solution, and our Research Centres of Excellence are doing just that.
The UK led the race in finding a vaccine for COVID-19, and as a charity we believe UK researchers will play a significant role in finding a cure for brain tumours. That is why we are backing UK Centres of Research.
In the Quinquennial Review for our Centre of Excellence at the University of Plymouth this year, the research was hailed as unique and recognised as the only institution in the UK to focus on low-grade glioma, meningioma and acoustic neuroma brain tumours.
This accolade comes fresh on the back of our Quinquennial Review of our Centre at Queen Mary University of London in 2019, which commended the innovative work that the team are undertaking in epigenetics and what makes healthy brain cells transform into a grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain tumour.
What’s more, our campaigning efforts continue to drive home the imperative need to increase the national funding for research into brain tumours.
At the July 2020 meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Brain Tumours (APPGBT), we unearthed that only £6 million of the promised £40 million by the Government in 2018 has been committed, and we are determined to change this.
We are holding the Government to account through the work that our activists are doing by writing to their MPs. We are also organising key meetings between the Chair of the APPGBT, Derek Thomas MP, relevant ministers and stakeholders, working together to remove blockages.
We provided a platform at the APPGBT for Dr Kathreena Kurian, a brain tumour research specialist from the University of Bristol, to share her solutions for unlocking the promised funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and a platform for pharmaceutical companies who are trying to get clinical trials for DIPG brain tumours up and running in the UK.
The path to a cure for brain tumours needs hundreds of £ millions spent on ‘discovery’ science in order to identify the cellular targets and drugs that will halt the formation and proliferation of brain tumours. Such discoveries can then be translated into treatments and the promise of a cure.
Unlocking the promised £40 million will certainly help, but we also need a significant increase in the national investment in discovery science by UK Governments, larger cancer charities and dedicated brain tumour charities such as ours, and that will be our focus in 2021.
Please help us to double donations and fundraising in 2021 in order to sustain our Research Centres of Excellence and establish new Centres across the UK.
If you haven’t yet signed our petition – to increase the national investment in brain tumour research to £35 million a year – then please take a moment to do that now. We need as many signatures as possible before the end of February 2021.
Let’s do this in 2021.
Together we will find a cure.
Sue Farrington Smith MBE
- COVID-19 research and how this differs from brain tumour research
- The cost of developing new treatments and the case for front-loading discovery science funding
- How long does it take for research to reach patients
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