Childhood brain tumours research leads to £4 million programme

  • Newcastle University

  • Childhood brain tumours

  • 2010-2013

The research

_MG_6991Medulloblastoma (MB) is the most common malignant childhood brain tumours. Although the use of intensive treatment over the last 10-15 years has improved the survival of medulloblastoma patients, 20-25% of children still do not respond to medication. MB patients who relapse have an extremely poor prognosis with the majority (>90%) going on to die from their disease. The biology of recurrent medulloblastomas is poorly understood.  Advances in our understanding of the biological mechanisms of MB relapse are critical for future improvements in the clinical management of these children.

 This Sparks’ project used for the first time contemporary genomic methodologies to undertake a detailed characterisation of the biological features of relapsed medulloblastomas, with the aim to identify targets for the future development of more specific and effective therapies which will significantly improve the outcome for children with relapsed medulloblastoma.


 The team led by Professor Clifford at Newcastle University has established the first detailed description of the clinical and biological characteristics of relapsed medulloblastoma and therefore provided the basis for the development of new forms of specific treatment for these children. The results of this study have been published in a leading international academic journal “Cancer Cell” in January 2015.

Professor Clifford’s ground breaking work supported by Sparks successfully led to securing a large £4 million collaborative programme of work, across three of the UK’s leading paediatric neuro-oncology centres including the Northern Institute for Cancer Research at Newcastle University. This work funded through a partnership between the Brain Tumour Charity, Children with Cancer UK and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity will enable to take forward Professor Clifford’s research and improve outcomes for children with childhood brain tumours.

Sparks continues to fund vital research into children’s medical conditions. Find out more about our current projects or get involved in our fundraising events today.