University makes key breakthrough for brain tumour treatment

Brain tumour patient Richard Preston with his wife Wendy
Brain tumour patient Richard Preston with his wife Wendy
Charlie Dickie at the Havant Sixth Form campus of HSDC Picture: Habibur Rahman (171065-43)

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A potentially ground-breaking scientific breakthrough with far-reaching consequences for future treatments of brain tumours has been revealed by a team from the University of Portsmouth.

Professor Geoff Pilkington and Dr Richard Hill, from the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at the university, presented their research findings at an international research meeting in Poland yesterday.

The group has been collaborating with Manchester-based Innovate Pharmaceuticals, which has developed a novel formulation ‘IP1867B’, combining reformulated aspirin with two additional ingredients in a soluble form. Developing a true liquid aspirin has long been a scientific goal, as ‘soluble’ aspirins currently on the market are not completely soluble and still contain grains that cause gastric side effects.

Most significantly for patients with brain tumours, this new formulation significantly increases the ability of drugs to cross the blood brain barrier.

This membrane serves to protect the brain, but also blocks many conventional cancer drugs from reaching brain tumours. This research suggests that Innovate Pharmaceutical’s IP1867B could be highly effective against glioblastoma (GBM), one of the most aggressive forms of the disease, which kills thousands of patients within a year.

Brain tumour patient Richard Preston from Waterlooville, said: ‘I’ve had the privilege of meeting Professor Pilkington and his team at the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence and, although we must recognise there is a lot of work still to do, it is exciting to see how the research is opening up new possibilities.’

Richard, 47, was diagnosed with a grade 4 GBM in 2013. He underwent surgery and treatment and is currently tumour-free.

He added: ‘Although I have a terminal illness and I know that my tumour could come back at some time in the future, for now at least I consider myself very lucky. I am a happy man and I feel optimistic and glad.’

Sue Farrington Smith, chief executive of Brain Tumour Research, said: ‘This is a potential game-changer for research into brain tumours and clearly shows what sustainable research is able to achieve.’