21 June 2012

Exploring the cause of childhood brain tumour

BMS and CMIAD member, Dr Andrew Furley, will investigate the cause of the most common form of childhood brain tumour following a £200,000 award from Yorkshire Cancer Research.

Surgeon examines x-ray images of cancerous tumour

The three-year study will concentrate on medulloblastomas, which make up 20 per cent of brain tumour cases in children and mainly affect children aged between three and eight.

Medulloblastomas form in the cerebellum, a structure in the brain concerned with co-ordinating movement and maintaining posture and balance.

The cerebellum contains the most neurons in the brain, yet must develop very rapidly immediately after birth, requiring a very large increase in the number of its cells in a very short period.


By studying the normal development of the cerebellum, scientists have already identified the key mechanisms that control its growth and have proved that damage to these mechanisms cause medulloblastoma.

Dr Andrew Furley

Study lead


Sometimes this expansion goes wrong and the cells fail to stop growing. Scientists at the University of Sheffield hope to determine why this happens, which could eventually lead to more effective diagnosis and treatment.

Dr Andrew Furley, from the University of Sheffield's Department of Biomedical Science, who is leading the study, said: “By studying the normal development of the cerebellum, scientists have already identified the key mechanisms that control its growth and have proved that damage to these mechanisms cause medulloblastoma.

“However, our understanding of these mechanisms remains poor and we cannot yet explain a substantial number of medulloblastoma cases. We have discovered a new mechanism controlling normal cerebellar growth and now plan to test its involvement in medulloblastoma.”


Yorkshire Cancer Research

Harrogate-based Yorkshire Cancer Research is the UK’s largest regional medical research charity (registered charity no. 516898). Every penny raised is spent in Yorkshire, funding £6m of research, treatment and diagnosis projects throughout the region each year.

The 200 plus scientists and clinicians funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research are among world leaders in the fight against cancer.

Over the next 10 years, Yorkshire Cancer Research is committed to slashing current statistics that show 263 people die every week from cancer in Yorkshire alone.

Currently Yorkshire has one of the worst cancer survival rates in the UK, partly due to a lack of funding by the government and national charities to researchers and clinicians throughout the region.

By funding research in Yorkshire, we are ensuring that people with cancer who live in the region have access to ground-breaking treatments, while also contributing to the global fight against the disease. Yorkshire Cancer Research is one of the most cost efficient cancer charities in the UK.

Contact

For further information please contact:

Amy Pullan
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
+44 114 222 9859
a.l.pullan@sheffield.ac.uk

Nikki Brady
Press Relations Officer
Yorkshire Cancer Research
+44 1423 877 228
nbrady@ycr.org.uk​​

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