‘A cure for my brother would be a dream come true’

Liz Fussey, right, with chief executive of Brain Tumour Research Sue Farrington Smith at the Plymouth launch
Liz Fussey, right, with chief executive of Brain Tumour Research Sue Farrington Smith at the Plymouth launch
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A sister has spoken of her hope for a cure for brain tumours, such as that suffered by her brother.

Padbury-based charity Brain Tumour Research continues to make strides in its mission to establish a network of seven research centres of excellence across the UK.

Last Thursday, representatives of the charity were joined by patients, carers, scientists, clinicians and charities from across the UK for the launch at of the latest centre, at Plymouth University, to hear how the work taking place will help those living with low-grade tumours.

The new partnership between Brain Tumour Research and Plymouth University will bring a welcome focus on some of the most overlooked types of brain tumour.

Around 4,300 people in the UK are diagnosed with a low-grade brain tumour each year.

Slower-growing tumours are not immediately cancerous, but they can be just as devastating and bring equally dangerous and debilitating effects to patients and their families.

They can cause neurological conditions including loss of balance, weakness, memory loss, poor hearing, epilepsy, and personality changes.

For many, having a low-grade tumour is like living with a time bomb, wondering when it might suddenly grow more rapidly, become cancerous and spread to other parts of the brain or when the tumour may return after treatment.

Sometimes low-grade tumours are located within an inoperable area of the brain.

Buckingham resident Liz Fussey’s brother, Andrew Crowe, was diagnosed with a low-grade tumour in 2002.

She said: “Living with a brain tumour – even a low-grade one – is not easy.

“My brother has been through five major brain surgeries so far because his tumour is in a place which means it is impossible to remove entirely, so it keeps growing back.

“These operations and the radiotherapy he underwent have left him disabled and experiencing significant difficulties with short term-memory, as well as his ability to communicate.

“We live with the knowledge the tumour will likely become malignant over time.”

Mrs Fussey, who now works for Brain Tumour Research, said: “I feel I am in the best place, helping to raise awareness of the desperate need for research.

“I welcome the launch of this centre in Plymouth dedicated specifically to research into low-grade tumours.

“If we can find a cure for my brother and the thousands of other patients each year who are diagnosed with a brain tumour, it would be a dream come true.”

The new Centre of Excellence will sit within Plymouth University schools of dentistry and medicine and will be led by Prof Oliver Hanemann.

By understanding the mechanism that makes healthy cells become cancerous in low-grade tumours Prof Hanemann and his research team will explore ways in which to halt or reverse this process.

The results from this research will inform investigations into high-grade tumours as high and low grade tumours share some common features. The team will work in collaboration with scientists based at Brain Tumour Research’s network of Centres of Excellence across the UK.

With secure long-term funding from Brain Tumour Research, Prof Hanemann’s team will be freed from the limitations and frustrations of applying for one specific project grant after another, and will instead be to pursue the sustainable and continuous research that is desperately needed.

Brain Tumour Research currently helps fund – through corporate and public fundraising – an annual £1 million programme of research at their Centre of Excellence at the University of Portsmouth.

The relationship with Plymouth University, along with additional new partnerships at Queen Mary University, London and Imperial College in London, will pave the way for a £20 million investment in brain tumour research over the next five years.

Find out more about Brain Tumour Research, here.