Landmark brain cancer programme at Addenbrooke's could help revolutionise NHS treatment

  • Director of Cancer Research UK, Cambridge Centre, Richard Gilbertson

Brain tumour patients at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge are the first in the UK to benefit from personalised treatment using the latest innovations in genomics and cancer research.

Around 225 NHS patients with the most aggressive and fatal form of brain tumour, called glioblastoma, will be offered a more detailed diagnosis and tailored treatment plan, based on genetic sequencing results turned around within ten days

The 'Minderoo Precision Brain Tumour Programme' aims to speed up diagnosis.

It is hoped it may ultimately lead to new targeted treatments which extend survival.

The landmark NHS testing and treatment for brain cancer patients will take place over 3 years Credit: ITV News Anglia

The Director of Cancer Research UK, Cambridge Centre, Richard Gilbertson hopes it will eventually improve the standard of care for all patients with brain cancer.

"What we are doing is making sure in very patient there tumour is sequenced, we read the DNA like a book from cover to cover in very single patient and in doing that we can uncover the mistakes that drive that tumour and therefore think whats the best treatment option for this patient today and then perhaps tomorrow.

“The focus on this rare but really aggressive tumour type is critical.

“Because Minderoo has an interest in uniting patient data from across the globe, this helps us work with colleagues around the world effectively, bringing together everything we learn from patients, wherever they live, so we can build a more complete understanding of this terrible disease.”

When the patient undergoes surgery a sample is taken for genetic sequencing to identify specific genetic mutations present in the tumour. Credit: Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

The programme is a partnership between Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH), Minderoo Foundation, the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission, NHS East Genomics Laboratory Hub, Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre at the University of Cambridge and Illumina.

The ultimate goal is to roll out this approach nationally, with the help of the Tessa Jowell Centres of Excellence initiative.

UK Ambassador for Minderoo Foundation, Jess Mills is closely connected with the reseach programme. Her mother, the late Baroness Tessa Jowell, spent the final months of her life campaigning for better brain cancer treatments that could be made available to everyone via the NHS.

“I am proud to carry on the campaign my mum started after she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer,” Jess Mills said.

“Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under 40 in the UK, and thanks to the support of Minderoo Foundation, my hope is that every patient with a terminal diagnosis will soon be offered precision treatment, so that they get to have the best chance possible of living and living well with their diagnosis."