Brain Tumour Research

Brain tumours are a leading threat to human health

Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, with 10 lives lost each day. This presents a stark picture for public health, particularly as there is very little understanding of what causes brain tumours and this area of research is critically underfunded – receiving only one per cent of the national spend on cancer research.

One of three dedicated centres in the UK

Our team of researchers, led by Professor Oliver Hanemann, works closely with the charity Brain Tumour Research as one of three UK universities with a Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence.

The Centre are each invested in advancing knowledge of brain tumours, building the wealth of expertise that is needed to find a cure.

More on the Brain Tumour Research charity

<p>Brain Tumour Research</p>

Low-grade brain tumours

Our team are leaders in the investigation of low-grade brain tumours, which are usually slow-growing and frequently affect children and young adults.

Such tumours can be just as devastating as malignant high-grade tumours. They can bring equally dangerous and debilitating effects to patients, by causing neurological conditions including loss of balance, weakness, cognitive problems, poor hearing, epilepsy, and personality changes. Eventually, almost all low-grade brain tumours progress to high-grade.

With close links to hospitals in Plymouth and Bristol, our work focuses on identifying and understanding the mechanisms that make a cell become cancerous and exploring ways in which to halt or reverse this process.

We are working to find new biomarkers and therapeutic targets for low-grade brain tumours, to test new drugs and to investigate how existing drugs could be re-purposed as therapies for brain tumours.

<p>DRAFT page for brain tumour research lab page initiative</p>

Our research


Our research is facilitated using a number of complementary methods and models, driven by both hypothesis and -omic discovery approaches (particularly genomics and proteomics).
Current areas of specific research activity include:
  • mechanisms of tumour initiation
  • setting international standards for biomarker development in Neurofibromatosis
  • defining new drug targets in merlin-deficient brain tumours
  • investigating use of combination therapy through research into brain tumour micro-environment and tumour immunology.
Simply put, we aim to identify which biomarkers stratify tumours into sub-types, and which biomarkers differentiate between lower and higher-grade tumours.
We also want to identify and validate new drug targets, with recent tests of drug candidates showing positive results at low concentrations, making them more likely to be translated successfully in future clinical trials. 
This is vital work, as the only treatments currently available for these brain tumours are invasive surgery and/or radiotherapy. 

Collaborations

Our Centre’s research is supported by a range of successful collaborations including with Imperial College, the International Consortium of Meningioma (ICOM), University College London, University of Cardiff  and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, and we are part of the International REiNS consortium (Response Evaluation in Neurofibromatosis and Schwannomatosis).


Biobanking


Our research is supported and enabled by our established neurofibromatosis and meningioma biobanks and a developing low-grade glioma biobank, which include matched blood samples.

Academic collaboration

If you have an idea for a research project related to low-grade brain tumours, please get in touch with Professor C. Oliver Hanneman:

Commercial collaboration

If you are a business or organisation, Enterprise Solutions will help you to navigate the University's internationally recognised expertise, facilities and business services. They will support with more information on how your business can benefit from connecting and collaborating with the University of Plymouth – both on Brain Tumour Research and beyond.

Contact Enterprise Solutions on:

Recent grant funding

  • Wolfson Foundation for renewal of proteomic core £780,000 (incl. UoP contribution)
  • NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowship, Damjan Veljanoski start 01/04/22 – Comparing radiomic MRI features of meningioma to genomic data and blood biomarkers, ca £144,225, 25% research time
  • NIHR, Academic Clinical Fellowship, Sarah Kingdon, 2020-23, to fund 3 years of an Academic Clinical Fellowship. £144,225
  • NIHR Academic Clinical Lectureship, Holly Roy PhD start 5/2021, ependymoma research, total funding approx. £280,000, 50% research time
  • Elin Ford Trust for imaging equipment (Perkin Elmar IVIS Lumina III) for pdx tumor model via £ 185,282

  • Academy of Medical Science Springboard award to Matthew Jones, influence on of ECM on cell quiescence (Astrocytes, Schwann cells), £ 99,098, start 1/4/22

  • PhD studentship (DoS Liyam Laraba); 50% from University of Plymouth/ 50% from Vivace Therapeutics Inc., exploring the potential of TEAD inhibition and brigatinib as a combination therapy in NF2-deficient schwannoma and meningioma, start October 2022, £70,000
  • EPSRC DTP funding 50% studentship Prof Ifeachor/Hanemann, assessment of brain tumours using machine learning and MRI radiomics, to be recruited, ca £33,500

  • Four PhD studentships UoP competitive: to Juri Na on HDAC inhibitors as radiosensitizer start 1/10/21, Claudia Barros on brain tumour initiation and growth mechanisms start 1/10/21, Oliver Hanemann start 1/10/22, Sylwia Ammoun on drug resistance mechanism, start 1/10/22 or 1/1/23, total sum ca £268,428
  • Animal Free Research UK, 2020-23, to fund 3 years of a PhD studentship, focused on the involvement of TAM receptors in meningiomas and schwannomas. £84,369
  • Vivace Therapeutics, 2019-20, to fund a Post-doc Research Fellow, focused on in vivo schwannomas. £29,000.
    2020-22, further funding of Post-doc Research Fellow, focused on the use of novel YAP/TEAD inhibitors to target Merlin null tumours. £35,000

  • Peninsula Medical Foundation, 2019-22, to fund 3 years of a PhD studentship, focused on organoid meningioma models. £66,000 

  • University of Plymouth Competitive Award, 2020-22, to fund a PhD student, focused on decoding mechanisms of brain tumour initiating cell adaption and tumour growth

Related events 

Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence, University of Plymouth Research Symposium, 24 January 2023. Celebrating our brain tumour research. 
We are one of three UK Centres of Excellence funded by the charity Brain Tumour Research. This symposium is to celebrate some of our achievements and stimulate discussion with clinicians on the ground. We will cover topics such as the mechanism of tumour development, genetics and new treatment avenues.

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</p><div>Brain with blood vessels and tumor- 3d Illustration</div>

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AiPBAND

An integrated platform for developing brain cancer diagnostic techniques

AiPBAND is a four-year, €3.7 million, pan-European, Horizon 2020, Marie Curie Innovative Training Network led by researchers at the University of Plymouth, designed to train the next generation of researchers in the early diagnosis of brain tumours.

The network comprises nine academic and three non-academic organisations, belonging to five EU member states and six partner organisations, with fields ranging from neuroscience, engineering and big data science to healthcare, clinical trials and economics. The initiative has four key objectives:

  • identify new blood biomarkers for patients with brain tumours
  • design three types of multiplex biosensor - plasmonic-based, graphene-based, and digital ELISA assay-based
  • development of a big data-empowered intelligent data management infrastructure
  • development of cloud-based diagnostic systems.