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Brain cancer presents a perfect storm of challenges:

  • It’s an indiscriminate killer, affecting people of all ages and lifestyles.
  • It’s impossible to diagnose early – a clear brain scan can be followed by one just a few weeks later showing an inoperable tumour.
  • It resists all attempts at treatment. Even after surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, tumours never really disappear.
  • It is almost invariably fatal. Just one in seven adults lives five years after their diagnosis while those with the highest grade tumours rarely survive even a year.

It’s thankfully rare. Around 9,000 people are diagnosed with brain cancer in the UK every year, but this itself adds a fresh challenge, providing just a small pool of patients with whom to test potential treatments. As a result it has remained under-researched and under-funded; while the treatment of many cancers has seen major improvements in the last 20 years, the prognosis for brain cancer patients has barely changed.

Yet at Leeds, we believe brain cancer can be beaten. We are the only research group in the UK investigating a revolutionary viral therapy for brain cancer – and your support could be critical in helping our team make a breakthrough that gives real hope to those diagnosed with this dreadful disease.

The University of Leeds is currently hosting a two-year clinical trial, the first of its kind in the UK, to test the use of oncolytic viruses on patients with poor prognosis brain cancers to show how and why this treatment can work effectively to help treat brain tumours.

This investment by Cancer Research UK is a ringing endorsement of the significant work carried out by Professor Short and her team. It will allow them to test the virus on a cohort of 30 patients, trial different dosages, assess the possible side-effects, and develop the most effective treatment regime.

Your support could be crucial to making the most of this opportunity.

With your help we will appoint a Clinical Research Fellow to work with the Leeds team over the next two years and help us generate the greatest possible value from the information we gather. They will:

  • Analyse blood and other patient materials collected in the study;
  • Assess which patients respond best to this treatment and why;
  • Test whether other factors, such as the position of the tumour and other aspects of the patient’s health, can impact on their outcome;
  • Answer questions arising from the observation of patients;
  • Use pre-clinical models to assess new combinations of vaccines and other treatments;
  • Investigate the potential of an oncolytic vaccine as a carrier for other treatments to produce an even more effective treatment.

The success of this study could be critical in delivering this potential new treatment for brain cancer patients in the future.

As well as supporting this important study, your funding will also allow the clinician to develop the skills and expertise to make a significant contribution to clinical research throughout their subsequent career.

Our research into brain cancer is already making national headlines, following the discovery of a chemical called KHS101 which could prove to be a new weapon against glioblastoma, one of the most aggressive types of brain tumour. Project leader Dr Heiko Wurdak said: “When we started this research we thought KHS101 might slow down the growth of glioblastoma, but we were surprised to find that tumour cells basically self-destructed when exposed to it. Our findings pave the way for drug developers to start investigating the uses of this chemical, and we hope that one day it will be helping to extend people’s lives.” Full story

Footsteps Fund donors contributed almost £190,000 to support this research. Read more.

Making a World of Difference


Could viral therapy hold the key?

Why Leeds?

Footsteps Fund Support

"This work offers real hope of a cure."

Susan Short

Susan Short, Professor of Clinical Oncology and Neuro-oncology at the University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, talks about brain cancer - why it is a major challenge for doctors and patients, and how her team is working to develop a new therapy for the disease.

Malcolm's story

Alumnus Malcolm Jenkin (Portuguese and Spanish 1976) talks about how his family's life was shattered by his wife Pilar's brain cancer diagnosis in 2013. He also explains why he is now supporting the University's research towards finding a cure for the disease.

ITV Yorkshire broadcast

In a news bulletin first broadcast on January 26 2018, ITV Yorkshire interview the first patient to undergo viral therapy for brain cancer. The broadcast also features Professor Susan Short who is leading this revolutionary work at the University of Leeds.

Ryan Mathew

Neurosurgeon Ryan Mathew talks about research being carried out at the University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust to develop new treatments for brain cancers.

Jon Moulton

Jon Moulton talks about the decision he took with his Charitable Foundation to support brain cancer research at the University of Leeds.

Leeds Actually Is You

This imaginative film by students Stacey Kendall and Alice Greenfield (Cinema and Photography 2015), presents the work of the Cancer Research UK Leeds Centre, through the daily lives of neurosurgeon Ryan Mathew and researcher Helen Close

How you can help

Your support will help us build on the University’s successes in brain cancer – and give our clinical trial into oncolytic viruses the very best chance of success.

And because the University is a charity, UK taxpayers can make their gifts go further. Gift Aid enables the University to reclaim the basic rate of tax on the value of the donation, while higher rate (40%) and additional rate (45%) taxpayers can reclaim the difference between their rate of tax and the basic rate.

Here are three examples of how your donation can deliver maximum value to our research

You give£800£8,000£152,000
The University claims Gift Aid (1)£200£2,000£38,000
Full value of gift£1,000£10,000£190,000

If you are a Higher Rate (40%) taxpayer:

You claim tax relief (2)£200£2,000£38,000
Net cost to you£600£6,000£114,000

If you are an Additional Rate (45%) taxpayer:

You claim tax relief (3)£250£2,500£47,500
Net cost to you£550£5,500£104,500
  1. Added at the basic rate of tax.
  2. Higher rate relief is the difference between basic rate and higher rate tax.
  3. Additional rate relief is the difference between basic rate and additional rate tax.

Further information on tax-effective giving and eligibility click here

You may also choose to make your gift in instalments.

Browse the project brochure

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