Brain tumour patients at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge are the first in the UK to benefit from personalised treatment using the latest advances in genomics and targeted therapies through the Minderoo Foundation's new Precision Brain Tumour Programme (MPBTP).
The MPBTP is currently enabling patients with the most aggressive and fatal form of brain tumour, glioblastoma, to be offered a more detailed diagnosis and tailored treatment plan, based on genomic sequencing results turned around within ten days.
Using cutting-edge genomics technology, the MPBTP is establishing the first-ever precision medicine system for brain cancer patients on the NHS, with the potential to revolutionise brain cancer treatment and improve survival rates.
The programme is a partnership between Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH), Minderoo Foundation, the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission, NHS East Genomics Laboratory Hub, Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre at the University of Cambridge and Illumina.
The ambition is to inspire, inform and ultimately improve the standard of care for all patients with brain cancer.
Daniel's experience of being on the programme
34 year old Daniel Covington is one of the patients on the MPBTP pilot at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (CUH).
He was diagnosed with a brain tumour towards the end of 2021 and underwent surgery a few weeks later to debulk as much of the tumour as possible.
During the operation, a tumour sample was taken and then sequenced at Illumina, a few miles away in Cambridge, to identify genomic mutations that are driving the tumour growth.
In ten days, the tumour genome had been sequenced and the results were discussed at a genomics tumour advisory board meeting at Addenbrooke's Hospital to identify the best treatment.
This means Daniel was able to access a personalised treatment plan from the time of his initial diagnosis.
Thanks to Richard and the team for what they are doing and for diagnosing me so quicklyDaniel Covington, CUH patient
This incredibly exciting new programme enables us to analyse the mutations driving a patient’s tumour in real-timeMr Richard Mair, consultant neurosurgeon at CUH
Mr Richard Mair, who is leading the MBPTP, added: "We hope to use this information to identify whether any new, targeted treatments can be offered to these patients.”
Scientists at East Genomic Laboratory Hub provide expert analysis and interpretation of the patients WGS reports from Illumina to help inform the clinical team’s decisions on the best course of treatment.
The MPBTP has an initial target of enrolling 225 adult patients in Cambridge over three years, aiming to demonstrate the benefits of precision medicine for brain cancer patients in an NHS clinical setting.
UK Ambassador for Minderoo Foundation, Jess Mills is closely connected with the MPBTP. Her mother, the late Baroness Tessa Jowell, spent the final months of her life campaigning for better brain cancer treatments that could be made available to everyone via the NHS.
I am proud to carry on the campaign my Mum started after she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.Jess Mills, UK Ambassador for Minderoo Foundation
Jess Mills is a founding member of the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission, established to deliver her mother's legacy.
“Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under 40 in the UK, and thanks to the support of Minderoo Foundation, my hope is that every patient with a terminal diagnosis will soon be offered precision treatment, so that they get to have the best chance possible of living and living well with their diagnosis.”
The MPBTP will also enable researchers unprecedented access to detailed genomic data on brain tumour patients to identify potential therapeutic targets, develop new treatments and offer innovative clinical trials.
"The focus on this rare but really aggressive tumour type is critical," said Prof Richard Gilbertson, Director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre at the University of Cambridge.
"Because Minderoo has an interest in uniting patient data from across the globe, this helps us work with colleagues around the world effectively, bringing together everything we learn from patients, wherever they live, so we can build a more complete understanding of this terrible disease."
Minderoo Foundation Co-Chair Nicola Forrest said:
"Brain cancer research has had little investment over the last several decades so that's where we decided was most important to focus. At Minderoo Foundation, we seek out the hardest challenges and if we could make a difference there then it could translate across all cancers."
Offering precision cancer treatment is a key aim of the planned new Cambridge Cancer Research Hospital, bringing together clinical expertise from Addenbrooke's with cutting-edge research from the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre and University of Cambridge.