A Huddersfield cancer charity is to fund ground-breaking research into a drug which could save young people from currently incurable brain tumours.
The Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust is to provide £25,000 for a project to develop drugs for treating brain cancers which begin in childhood and early adolescence.
The project, run by Plymouth University, will tackle the hereditary tumour disease neurofibromatosis type two (NF2).
One in 25,000 people worldwide are affected by NF2, a condition where the loss of a tumour suppressor called ‘Merlin’ results in multiple tumours in the brain and nervous system.
Sufferers may experience 20 to 30 tumours at any one time and such numbers often lead to hearing loss, disability and eventually death.
Additional symptoms include facial pain and paralysis, numbness, speech problems, difficulty in swallowing and childhood cataracts.
The tumours reduce life expectancy to 40 years.
So far, the condition has no cure and can only be slowed by invasive surgery and radiotherapy.
The two-year project hopes to develop a non-invasive drug which will also combat diseases that have become resistant to medication.
The research team will use non-animal methods to investigate how a cell in the brain or nervous system mutates to NF2.
The study is led by Dr Sylwia Ammoun, research fellow in clinical neurobiology at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry.
Dr Ammoun said: “NF2 is a devastating condition which affects young people, giving them life-debilitating symptoms and the prospect of shorter than average life expectancy.
“It is important for scientists to address the condition so that those who suffer from it have valid and effective treatment options.
“We are grateful to The Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust (LCYCT) for this opportunity to move closer to identifying those options.”
Pam Thornes, trust manager at the Trust, said: “Laura Crane is committed to funding vital research into cancer in young people and this is brilliantly reflected through the work of Dr Ammoun and her team.
“The trust is proud to be a part of such pioneering research that will investigate a new drug-based treatment for a multi-tumour brain and nervous system cancer that can offer effective treatment options for these young people.”