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  • Health & Medicine

Glowing brain tumours could aid surgery

by Henry Scowcroft | Analysis

1 November 2011

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You may have spotted news today about doctors making brain tumours glow under UV light to aid surgery.

Currently, people diagnosed with glioblastoma – the most common form of primary brain tumour in adults – survive for an average of just 15 months. So there’s clearly a pressing need to improve treatment, to help more people survive longer. To address this, we’ve joined forces with Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust to fund the trial that’s hit the headlines today.

Called the GALA-5 trial, this innovative study is looking at whether a combination of two treatments is safe and improves survival. The first part involves a dye that makes the tumour glow under ultraviolet light during surgery, helping surgeons spot the edges of the tumour that needs removal.

Once the tumour has been removed the second part involves inserting wafers soaked with a chemotherapy drug into the space where the tumour was, to try to kill any remaining cancer cells.

At the moment, this work is still at the research stage so the treatment isn’t widely available. But one day it could become part of how people with glioblastoma are routinely treated.

To accompany the press release that we sent out this morning, we have a few images of the glowing tumours, which you can view below.

Please note that you may not want to look at these images if you’re of a squeamish disposition.