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Monday 24th June 2019

Trials begin on making brain cancers glow

1st November 2011

A trial is being carried out in the UK to see if adding fluorescent chemicals to brain tumours could help surgeons during operations.


The University of Cambridge trial will see patients being given a drug called 5-amino-levulinic acid (5-ALA) which leads to a concentration of chemicals in the tumour.

The researchers believe that because the sides of the tumour are clearly marked with a pink glow, it will help surgeons to remove the whole thing.

Over 60 patients with glioblastoma, for which the average survival rate is around 15 months, are participating in the trial.

The removal of a brain tumour must be very accurate, as none of the surrounding areas of the brain can be removed without loss of function.

Dr Colin Watts, who is heading the trial, told the BBC that surgeons "don't want to take too much functional tissue away". 

The trial will also find if placing drugs into the tumour will help life expectancy rates.

After removing the tumour, surgeons will place a medication-soaked wafer into the former tumour site, which will release chemotherapy drugs over a four-to-six week period to kill off cancer cells.

The trial was founded by the Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust and its founder Neil Dickson said: "Brain tumour research receives a fraction of the funding of that of higher profile cancers and it is our priority to redress the balance."


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