Collaborate Against Cancer01 May 2023

Minderoo Precision Brain Tumour Programme tops recruitment milestones at 16-month mark

Brain cancer patients in the UK are benefiting from a personalised approach to treatment based on their genomic profile

Richard Mair
Neurosurgeon Dr Richard Mair says the Minderoo Precision Brain Tumour Programme is giving patients much-needed hope by demonstrating that personalised treatments are possible. Photo Credit: Cambridge University Hospitals.

For patients with glioblastoma, the most aggressive and fatal form of brain cancer – whose survival rates average just 14 months from diagnosis – time is everything, as is the emergence of cutting-edge approaches to treatment.

Treatment has failed to progress for three decades, but the Minderoo Precision Brain Tumour Programme is providing patients in the UK with access to a new level of innovation and excellence in treatment and care.

Launched just 16 months ago, the Programme aimed to recruit 125 patients at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge over two years. With overwhelming support from patients, the Programme has already enrolled 140 patients.

The tumours of these patients have been genomically sequenced and patients have been offered a more detailed diagnosis and tailored treatment plan.

To date, the Programme has identified potential drug targets in more than 90 per cent, recommended precision therapies for 11 per cent and informed a change in diagnosis (and treatment) for three per cent.

Significantly, it has achieved a median time from surgery to return of genomic data of just 20 days, a huge improvement on a timeframe that traditionally averages months.

“The Minderoo Precision Brain Tumour Programme is giving patients hope; it’s showing and demonstrating that we are moving forwards,” said Richard Mair, Consultant Neurosurgeon and Project Lead for the Minderoo Precision Brain Tumour Programme.

There are more than 100 distinct types of brain cancer, defined by their genomic profile, making them difficult to precisely diagnose and treat.

“Sequencing of the DNA and RNA within tumour cells helps us to make more precise diagnoses, helps to make prognoses clearer, helps to determine the best treatment options, and helps to guide patients towards clinical trials for which they might be eligible,” Mr Mair said.

Around 200,000 people die each year worldwide from glioblastoma, the most common and deadly of all brain cancers.

“The Minderoo Precision Brain Tumour Programme has already demonstrated direct clinical benefit for patients,” said Aileen Boyd-Squires, Head of Personalised Cancer Care for Minderoo Foundation’s Collaborate Against Cancer initiative.

“The data generated by the comprehensive genomic sequencing offered by this Programme will help us to identify tumour-specific mutations which can be targeted by specialised treatments. Our hope is that this pilot can expand to other NHS centres so that more patients can benefit.

“Minderoo Foundation is very proud to support this Programme, and we are committed to helping to make brain cancer non-lethal within a generation.”

The Minderoo Precision Brain Tumour Programme is a partnership with Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, NHS East Genomics Laboratory Hub, Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre at the University of Cambridge, Illumina and the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission.

Minderoo Foundation
by Minderoo Foundation

Established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001, we are a modern philanthropic organisation seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, with key initiatives spanning from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaboration in cancer and community projects.

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