Clinical research on brain & CNS cancer

What is Brain/CNS Cancer?

Over 4,000 people are diagnosed with new cases of brain or central nervous system (CNS) cancer every year in the UK. Glioblastomas are the most common and aggressive form of brain tumour in adults. Research at the Cambridge Cancer Centre is focused on understanding the different types of brain tumours that develop in both adults and children, finding the most effective ways of diagnosing brain tumours as early as possible, developing new treatments, and monitoring how tumours are responding to treatment.

Cambridge Cancer Trials Centre contact for head and neck, and CNS cancer trials:  Dr Sarah Jefferies

A trial using dyes to guide surgery

The Cambridge Cancer Centre is coordinating a number of clinical trials for adults and children with cancer of the brain or spinal cord. One of these trials is testing a new tool to help surgeons remove as much of brain tumour as possible and potentially improve the survival rates of patients. Patients with glioblastoma are given a drink containing a dye before their operation, which makes. The dye makes the tumour cells glow pink under ultra-violet light. This allows the surgeon to distinguish tumour from normal brain allowing more tumour to be removed while improving patient safety so during surgery the surgeon can see the tumour cells more clearly and remove as much of the tumour as possible. Discs with a drug that kills tumour cells are then implanted in the space left after the tumour has been removed, to target any tumour cells left behind.

Tumour heterogeneity, growth and evolution

We have recently developed a real-time multiple sampling scheme to interrogate high-grade glioma during surgery. FGMS (Fluorescence-Guided Multiple Sampling) is based on fluorescence-guided resection technology to obtain spatially distinct tumour biopsies from individual tumours in real time, during cytoreductive surgery.

Figure 1.1 We can use these data to dissect intra-tumour heterogeneity, identify clonal diversity and infer tumour evolution.

Figure 1.2 Reconstruction of GB progression in time and space: The combination of sampling information (A), reconstructed tumor phylogeny (B), gene expression profiles, and molecular clock data enables temporal and spatial reconstruction of tumor ontogeny (C).
Little is known about the impact of intra-tumour heterogeneity on tumour evolution, growth and the consequences of such heterogeneity on the emergence of resistant disease. This is an important problem in brain tumour research because it is the emergence of recurrent treatment-resistant disease that kills patients and it is variability in this biological process that is responsible for variation between individual patients.
Current open trials in Cambridge

The table below lists the current open trials for brain and CNS cancer coordinated by the Cambridge Cancer Trials Centre. If you would like further information about how to take part in any of the clinical trials listed here, please talk to your cancer specialist as patients usually need to be referred by their doctor



Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Department of Oncology
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Department of Oncology
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Department of Clinical Neuroscience
Titlesort descending Trial description Contact name Trial end date Trial start date
BRITER Brain Imaging to predict Toxicity in Elderly patients after Radiotherapy Dr Gary Doherty 31 Mar 2021 10 Jan 2019
DIG (Diffusion imaging in gliomas) Quantitative diffusion imaging for early treatment response and progression evaluation in adult high grade gliomas; a multicentre study Dr Tomasz Matys 31 Dec 2022 13 Jul 2018
PRaM-GBM Predicting sites of tumour progression in the invasive margin of glioblastomas Mr Stephen Price 31 Dec 2020 1 Feb 2017
ROAM Radiation versus observation following surgical resection of atypical meningioma: A randomised controlled trial Dr Sarah Jefferies 30 Apr 2025 17 Nov 2016
SPRING Seizure prophylaxis in Glioma Mr Stephen Price 31 May 2023 11 Dec 2019