Irish breakthrough in brain tumour research

An Irish researcher has found a way of boosting the impact of chemotherapy on brain tumours.

Dr Amanda Tivnan has identified a way of switching off pumps, called transporters, which remove chemotherapy from brain cancer cells.

When the pumps are restricted, the chemotherapy remains longer within the brain cells, increasing their cancer-killing abilities.

The pumps can rapidly remove chemotherapy drugs from brain cancer cells before they have enough time to kill the tumour.

Dr Tivnan’s research has been funded by the Irish Cancer Society but she now needs the support of larger funding bodies to move it forward.

The researcher, who is based in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, says the next stage of her work will be to develop a therapy.


Around 350 adults are diagnosed with brain tumours every year in Ireland and advances in surgery and radiotherapy have resulted in a small increase in survival rates.

In recent years there has been a significant amount of brain cancer research on new drugs, or combination treatments, to better target the cancer. Improving the action of drugs currently in use and how they they are delivered to the cancer cell is also improving survival rates.

Dr Tivnan presented her breakthrough research at the ‘Controlling Cancer Summit’ in London.

She showed that a higher proportion of glioblastoma brain tumour were killed by the chemotherapy when drugs and treatments were used to selectively block the action of cellular pumps.

While any form of brain cancer is serious, diagnosis of a patient with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most complex and aggressive form of brain cancer in adults.

Dr Tivnan’s research provides an opportunity to improve currently used chemotherapeutics for the initial treatment of primary GBM, and improved treatment for recurrent brain tumour patients.

With a diagnosis of GBM currently holding the worst outcome for patients, Dr Tivnan’s research is focused on looking at avenues to improve their treatment options. “We are continuing to build on this important research in order to develop novel technologies which could potentially result in better treatments for patients with brain tumours, especially those with GBM,” she said.

Irish Cancer Society help-line:1800 200700.



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