THE CHILDREN'S BRAIN TUMOUR CHARITY

New research could spare meningioma patients from invasive surgery

The Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at the University of Plymouth is making excellent progress in their search for a reliable way to diagnose meningiomas, without the need for invasive surgery. The Plymouth team are world leaders in research surrounding low-grade brain tumours, with Professor Oliver Hanemann and his team committed to identifying and exploring ways to halt and reverse tumour growth.

What is a meningioma?

A meningioma is a brain tumour which begins within the brain lining, otherwise known as the meninges. These are the most common form of primary brain tumour, and as there are many types of meningiomas, they are classified according to their rate of growth, behaviour, and physiology by a World Health Organisation (WHO) system. Slow-growing meningiomas which do not usually return after treatment are classified as grade 1, with grade 3 used to describe fast growing tumours that are more likely to return.

What did the research find?

Research found that brain tumours release miR-497 and miR-219 in abnormal quantities

The research team studies the chemicals released from meningioma tumours and whether they were released into the blood, which would mean that a blood test could potentially support a tumour diagnosis and classification. The study looked at two chemicals, miR-497 and miR-219, and the researchers found that brain tumours release these chemicals in abnormal quantities, with the levels of miR-497 released decreasing as the grade of tumour increased.

What does this mean for meningioma patients?

As between 70-85% of meningioma tumours are classed as grade 1, the majority of patients are monitored closely, with radiotherapy and surgery used if the tumour starts to grow. However, the current classification system relies on a surgical biopsy to initially grade the meningioma tumour, so that a treatment plan can be decided.

It is hoped that this research could help patients to avoid the potential risks associated with invasive surgery, especially when patients are being monitored for low-grade tumour growth or have already undergone surgery to remove a high-grade meningioma tumour. This means that if a grade 1 tumour remains dormant for a long period of time, the patient may be able to avoid potentially dangerous biopsies to monitor growth, if the tumour can be monitored through a simple blood test instead.

The team will now build on their understanding by analysing the serum blood from meningioma patients, so the tumour progressions can be monitored, and more accurate treatments can be decided upon, without having to undergo surgery.

Common symptoms of childhood brain tumours include:

We are so pleased to see excellent progress being made into the monitoring and treatment of meningioma patients, and as research continues, the accuracy of treatments and our understanding of this disease will continue to grow. Our committed team will continue to raise funds for this important research, whilst also offering vital support to patients and their families. To find out more about how to support our charity or to make a donation, please contact us today.

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