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Brain Cancer

Brain cancer is one of the toughest cancers to treat. It sadly kills more children in Australia than any other disease and more people under 40 than any other cancer.

Brain cancer patient

There are more than 40 major types of brain cancers, with Glioblastoma the most common and aggressive type, accounting for almost two-thirds of all brain cancers in Australia.

Brain cancer research is vital to save lives through the investigation of new treatments for this devastating disease.

What is the survival rate for brain cancer?

Thanks to previous advancements in brain cancer treatments, survival rates have improved over the past 30 years from 20-23%. However, there is still significant work to be done to improve brain cancer survival rates. The Australian government recognised that the five year relative survival rate for brain cancer is far too low. To address this, it launched its Brain Cancer Mission to fight brain cancer. The aims of this government initiative were to:

  • Double the survival rates of Australians living with brain cancer over 10 years,
  • Improve quality of life of patients,
  • Increase the opportunity to participate in clinical trials. So that all adults and children that have brain cancer were able to join a clinical trial, and,
  • Boost Australian research and build research capacity.

What current research is being done on brain cancer?

The Hospital Research Foundation Group is a charity committed to advancing brain cancer research in Australia. We are dedicated to fighting brain cancer and improve outcomes for patients and their families through the below initiatives:

  • Proton therapy
  • CAR T-cell therapy trials
  • Bringing brain cancer specialists to Adelaide

The Hospital Research Foundation Group is pleased to support projects that are furthering advancements in brain cancer research through one of science’s latest developments – CAR T-cell therapy.

Our CAR T-cell therapy trials

What is CAR T-cell therapy?

Brain cancer surgeon

Typically people with brain cancer undergo surgery to remove the bulk of the brain tumour, followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. CAR T-cell therapy is a different brain cancer treatment that involves using a patient’s own cancer-fighting T-cells. These cells are genetically engineered in a lab with Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CAR), and are then returned to the patient in the hope they can attack the cancer.

As a reasonably new brain cancer treatment, CAR T-cell therapy has shown to be successful in children with leukaemia, and medical research teams globally, such as those supported by The Hospital Research Foundation Group, are now seeing if it will work in other types of cancer such as melanoma and breast cancer.

Why is CAR T-cell therapy so important?

One challenge with treating brain cancer, particularly pertinent in children, is that brain cancer tumours are hard to access to remove, so surgery is often not an option. Another challenge is the high rate of relapse following treatment (particularly with common brain cancer Glioblastoma). There is no standard treatment once you relapse. CAR T-cell therapy offers hope for these patients.

Dr Tessa Gargett, Research Officer at Adelaide’s Centre for Cancer Biology (an alliance between the University of South Australia and SA Pathology), is leading work with collaborators in Sydney and Stanford Medicine in the US, and are one of the only groups trying CAR T-cell therapy for childhood brain cancer.

Find out more about or CAR T-cell therapy trials below.


Proton therapy for brain cancer

Another research area that holds huge promise for the treatment of brain cancer is proton therapy.

What is proton therapy for brain cancer?

Proton therapy technology will be able to target and destroy cancer cells using radiation without damaging healthy tissues. This is done by delivering powerful proton beams to precisely where they’re needed.

Why is proton therapy advancements so important?

Proton therapy helps overcome one of the main challenges of brain cancer treatment in that tumours are hard to access. Proton therapy is a non-invasive radiotherapy making it an innovative cancer treatment with fewer side effects. However, up until now there have been no treatment facilities in the southern hemisphere that offer life-saving proton therapy. Patients have had to travel significant distances overseas to benefit from this treatment.

The Hospital Research Foundation (THRF) Group is supporting critical start-up operations for the new Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research in Adelaide. This will significantly advance cancer care in Adelaide, wider Australia and the southern hemisphere region.

Find out more about The Hospital Research Group’s proton therapy projects below.

Join our fight against brain cancer

Improving treatment for brain cancer is crucial. By donating to The Hospital Research Foundation Group, you can join the fight to help improve outcomes for people with brain cancer and save lives. Ultimately, we are looking for a brain cancer cure.

Join our fight against brain cancer by making a donation to brain cancer research or starting your own fundraiser. Find out more about our current brain cancer research projects below.

Our current projects for improved brain cancer support in Australia