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Tour of Brain Tumour Research Centre

Clowns in the Sky where privileged to be given a tour of Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at the University of Portsmouth to witness first hand how scientific research is bringing hope to patients and families across the UK

Four of the Clowns in the Sky team (Lynn Weston, Richard Chambers, Wendy Saunders and Donna Byrne) were shown round the research Centre of Excellence by Professor of Cellular and Molecular Neuro-Oncology Geoff Pilkington. Meeting with the UK’s largest laboratory brain tumour research team, they were given first-hand insights into the range of investigations into this devastating disease – such as tumour cell invasion into healthy brain tissue, effective drug delivery, and personalised medicine, including specific treatments for childhood brain tumours, with the aim that this work will improve survival rates and quality of life for patients, eventually leading to a cure.

Lynn said: “When Jennifer was diagnosed we felt so desperate, but our visit to the laboratory has given us hope that some of the best scientific brains in Britain are doing all they can to find better treatments and ultimately cures for this devastating disease. Without the hard work and efforts of the charity Brain Tumour Research, long-term programmes of research in dedicated Centres of Excellence would simply not be happening.”

Brain tumours are not like other cancers. The powerful protection mechanism that is the blood-brain barrier means that many of the typical treatments to fight cancers occurring elsewhere in the body cannot be applied to brain tumour patients.

The research at this Centre costs £1 million a year to run, that’s £2,740 a day paying for the researcher team, support staff and scientific equipment.  The visitors were also shown the charity’s Wall of Hope, where Clowns in the Sky placed a tile in memory of Jennifer Chambers. This tile also demonstrates that Clowns In the Sky have fundraised to pay for one or more days of research.
Lynn said: “What we learned explained so much about the diversity of research being carried here and the huge costs involved -We are now even more determined to continue with our fundraising.”

Professor Geoff Pilkington, lead scientist at the Centre of Excellence, said:
Research into brain tumours is a complex business, by opening the doors to the laboratory, we aim to demystify the challenging world of brain tumour research, as well as provide an opportunity to meet the team who are striving to bring us closer to cures.”

Sue Farrington Smith, Chief Executive of Brain Tumour Research said: “Faced with a diagnosis or loss of a loved one, many families feel frustrated by the chronic lack of funding and join our mission to support long-term and sustainable research.

Brain Tumour Research currently helps fund an annual £1 million programme of research at this Centre of Excellence, and the charity recently announced partnerships with three new Research Centres, paving the way for a £20 million investment in brain tumour research over the next five years.

The new Centres are the Blizzard Institute in Queen Mary University of London (in collaboration with UCL Institute of Neurology), Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (London) and Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry. These collaborations are building the ‘critical mass’ of research team expertise needed to bring the UK to the forefront of scientific investigation into all types of brain tumour.

Brain Tumour Research is on a mission to raise £7 million per year in order to establish and fund seven such dedicated Research Centres across the UK. Despite the advances in science and the growing opportunities for neurological investigation, brain tumours receive just 1% of the national cancer research spend – at this rate, it could take another 100 years to find a cure. The charity is urgently calling for more fundraisers to help raise the millions needed to fund what researchers are calling ‘the last battle ground against cancer’.

For further information please contact Clowns In the Sky on 0208 850 9193, or visit www.braintumourresearch.org

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