Local charity celebrates breakthrough in brain tumour treatment

21st April

Brain Tumour Research 10th anniversary reception at Speaker’s House, House of Commons, Nigel Boutwood with his son Charlie

The father of a young man diagnosed at the age of 20 months with a medulloblastoma brain tumour has welcomed the news that scientists have found a new way to starve cancerous brain tumour cells of energy in order to prevent further growth.

Breakthough Discovery at Queen Mary University, London

The findings by Professor Silvia Marino and her team at the Centre of Excellence at Queen Mary University of London, funded by the charity Brain Tumour Research, could see a breakthrough in the way that children with medulloblastoma brain tumours are treated in future.

Medulloblastoma is the most common high-grade brain tumour in children. Some 70 are diagnosed in the UK each year. Survival rate is 70% for those whose tumour has not spread but it is almost always fatal in cases of recurrent tumour.

Local man’s determination to raise funds and fight the disease

Nigel Boutwood from Horam, East Sussex, set up the charity Charlie’s Challenge, a Member Charity of Brain Tumour Research, after his son was fortunate to win his fight with a high-grade medulloblastoma in 1994.  Charlie was diagnosed with a brain tumour after a couple of months of falling over and being sick. He underwent surgery which removed around 75% of the tumour, followed by gruelling radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Nigel said: “Brain tumours account for the highest mortality rate in childhood cancer.

“When Charlie was going through his treatment, it was horrible to witness many families losing their children because of brain tumour. It led us to set up Charlie’s Challenge to help improve outcomes for children diagnosed with a brain tumour. We feel incredibly lucky that Charlie made a full recovery and is enjoying life as a young adult.

Nigel is a trustee of Brain Tumour Research and chairman of Charlie’s Challenge and has been at the forefront of brain tumour campaigning since 1993 when Charlie was diagnosed. He remains passionate about giving something back to the brain tumour community and finding a cure for this dreadful disease. Charlie’s Challenge has raised more than £1,000,000 to help fund research looking to find better outcomes for children with brain tumours and ultimately a cure.

Nigel added: “This childhood cancer breakthrough will bring hope to many families affected. Charlie’s Challenge is proud to have played its part in funding research into paediatric brain tumour research.”

Charlie Boutwood is now 29, enjoying life to the full, while living and working in London.

Real advance in treatment for the future

Prof Marino from Queen Mary University of London said: “We have identified a novel way that grade four medulloblastoma is able to adapt its metabolism and grow uncontrollably. Significantly, we have also shown how this energy supply can be blocked. These exciting results bring hope of developing new targeted treatments for patients with this aggressive paediatric brain tumour.”

Hugh Adams, Head of Stakeholder Relations at Brain Tumour Research said: “These very exciting results reveal a new way for epigenetics to control metabolism within tumour cells. Clinical trials are now required to test the ability of combining IP6 with chemotherapy to treat G4 medulloblastoma, offering promise to a particularly vulnerable group of patients.

“It is great news and brings some much-needed hope for the future. There is still some way to go but we hope that a clinical trial could be up and running in as little as two years.

“Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 yet, historically, just 1% of the national cancer spend has been allocated to this devastating disease. Brain Tumour Research is determined to change this.”

To donate to Charlie’s Challenge, go to https://www.justgiving.com/charlie