Cancer Research UK has launched its new Brain Tumour Awards in partnership with The Brain Tumour Charity.

The aim of the awards is to help advance understanding about the biology of the disease and the challenges translating discoveries into treatments.

Research teams can now apply for grants up to £10 million for each project over five years. Up to £18 million will be awarded in the first round.

Cancer Research UK has committed £15 million to the Brain Tumour Awards, and The Brain Tumour Charity has committed £3 million.

Dr Iain Foulkes, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of research and innovation, said: “We urgently need new insights and treatments to tackle brain tumours to improve survival. We want to attract and inspire the research community to accelerate progress for a disease that has seen few treatment options developed for patients and consequently little change in survival.”

The Brain Tumour Awards address six major themes:

  1. Unlocking new insights into brain tumours using neuroscience - There is a wealth of neuroscience research on how the brain works and on other neurological disorders. This theme aims to harness this information to help to expand our knowledge of how brain tumours begin and progress.
  2. Unpicking brain tumours’ biology to design more effective drugs - Many of the genetic events that fuel brain tumours have yet to be discovered. This theme seeks to address the knowledge gap, which could lead to the discovery of new targets for treatments, and the development of drugs against them.
  3. Exploiting the brain tumour environment to make better treatments - Brain tumours are influenced by their surrounding environment, which is unlike anywhere else in the body. This theme is about gaining a deep understanding of the cells and tissues around the tumour and the protective blood-brain barrier**, to inform the development of new ways to detect and treat the disease.
  4. Developing more accurate ways to study brain tumours - Many potential new treatments that have shown promise in lab research have failed in patients. One of the reasons behind this is that studies in cells and mice don’t always capture what happens in people. The aim of this theme is to develop better ways to study brain tumours in the lab, to accelerate the translation of research from bench to bedside.
  5. Improving brain tumour diagnosis to make treatment more personal - Many brain tumours are diagnosed based on how the cells look under the microscope, but this misses other vital pieces of information – such as genetics – which can influence how the disease will behave. This theme seeks to develop a more precise way of classifying brain tumours, which will help improve clinical trials and treatment decisions.
  6. Develop kinder treatments for brain tumours - While some brain tumours grow quickly and need aggressive treatment, others progress slowly and patients could be spared intensive therapy where it’s not needed. This challenge aims to make treatments kinder for patients with less aggressive brain tumours, lowering the risk of side effects and improving quality of life. This is particularly important for children with brain tumours, where long term side effects can significantly affect quality of life.

Each year around 11,400 people in the UK are diagnosed with a brain tumour and just 14% of people survive their disease for 10 or more years.