Brain Tumour Bank South West (BRASH)

The Problem

Approximately 7,000 patients in the UK develop primary brain cancer, but there are many more who develop secondary cancer within the brain from different primary sites around the body (such as breast and lung).

The brain tumour unit at North Bristol Trust treated over 400 cases of primary brain and spinal cord tumours in 2010. Brain cancer affects both adults and children, and in children it is the second highest cause of death after accidents. One of the major problems with primary brain cancer is that it invades the brain widely as single cells and therefore can be difficult to completely remove by surgery. It also can develop resistance to traditional chemotherapy and therefore tumour relapse is common. Future developments of brain cancer will involve fully understanding each individual’s tumour according to what is driving the abnormal growth of that specific tumour. Then surgery and a range of therapies can be tailored to the individual, providing a personalised medicine approach.

The Aim

The aim of the brain tumour bank is to provide researchers with access to rare tumour tissue from the brain and spinal cord (which is surplus to diagnostic needs). This will come with full consent from patients to allow researchers to correlate their findings with clinical and genetic information.

The brain tumour bank has the approval of the National Research Ethics Service and is held under the Human Tissue Authority licence at North Bristol Trust. The bank is supported and regulated by Research and Innovation, North Bristol Trust.

In most cases patients (or relatives/carers) will be approached by their neurosurgeon with an information sheet and consent form for the brain tumour bank and the request for tissue and blood surplus to diagnostic requirements are made.

Patients can withdraw their consent at any time through their treating clinician and their tissue will be withdrawn from the Bank, though research which has already been undertaken cannot be withdrawn. It is very unlikely that research results would affect patient treatment, but if required, results can be released to the treating consultant.