We were absolutely delighted that after our first year of fundraising we felt confident enough to commit to spending funds on our first research project.

Seven applications were received and on the advice of our Scientific and Medical Advisory Board, we selected a project led by Dr Tracy Warr - Institute of Neurology, University College London.

There are numerous forms of brain tumours and each type of tumour behaves in a different way. The types of tumour children develop are different and they behave differently to those seen in adults and some are much more difficult (or even impossible) to cure.

Research is in its infancy, with very little known about the behaviour of brain tumours, and this needs to be understood before significant progress can be made into treatments and finding a cure.

The most common form of brain tumour found in children is a type known as astrocytoma, although many of these tumours are found to be benign, approximately 20% will be malignant. The chances of long term survival are poor especially for astrocytomas of the pons where less than 10% of children are still alive two years from diagnosis.

Identification of aberrantly expressed genes in different grades of malignancy in paediatric astrocytoma
Dr Tracy Warr, Institute of Neurology - University College London

Using new gene microchip technology this study seeks to determine which genes are inappropriately switched on in childhood astrocytoma brain tumours. The results of this study will enable scientists to exploit new treatments through a greater understanding of:

  • Which genes make cells grow and divide and multiply to increase the size of the tumour
  • Which genes resist chemotherapy or radiotherapy, reducing the chances of arresting tumour growth
  • Whether genes that stop cell division from occurring do not work in brain tumours

It is only by gaining an understanding of what drives tumours to behave in a malignant way that real advances can be made!

Ali's Dream - Three year project started October 2003 - 90,000

There was a huge response to Tracy's advert for a PhD student to run this project and Tracy advises that Nikki Potter shone through. Nikki started work on the project on 1 st October 2003 and has busily been preparing samples to start the analysis, which starts at the end of January. The first round of results should be available towards the end of 2004.

Gary and Julie Phelan say: "When Ali was diagnosed with a brain tumour, our whole world came crashing down, it was followed by ten months of hell on earth. Since Ali's Dream began, we have met with many highs and lows. The missing her gets stronger and the hole she has left gets deeper. We are being helped through this by our initial dream to make a difference. Funding our first research project is just one step along the way, thank you so much to those who have helped us and continue to help us in our Ali's Dream."

We have now invited applications for further research, committing a further 200,000 over the next three years. Applications are due in at the end of July, and we should be able to announce the next research project(s) by the end of 2004.

Ali's Dream needs your help in the fight against childhood brain tumors by way of donation. If you would like to help us in this fight, please click on the button below and donate using Just Giving.

It only takes a minute and will help us more than you can imagine in our battle against this dreadful illness.

Everyone working for Ali's Dream is voluntary, therefore every penny donated goes directly towards research into finding a cure.

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