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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 December 2005, 06:00 GMT
Protein link to cancer survival
Rosie Clare, 9
Rosie Clare, 9, was diagnosed with a brain tumour last year
Children with a certain protein in their bodies have a higher survival rate from brain tumours, research funded by a Hampshire charity found.

The study, by researchers in Newcastle, found children who tested positive for beta-catenin showed a 93% survival rate without chemotherapy.

It was funded by the Samantha Dickson Trust (SDT), based in Hartley Wintney.

The charity said it is a "significant finding [that] offers the potential for improved quality of life".

The results came out of a European-wide trial carried out by researchers from the Northern Institute for Cancer Research, based at University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

We hope this discovery will make a crucial difference for patients
Prof David Ellison, report author

More than 100 patients with a malignant childhood brain tumour were tested for beta-catenin and of them 27 - 25% - had the protein.

The survival rate amongst those patients was 93%, compared to 65% for patients without the protein.

"We hope this discovery will make a crucial difference for patients having treatment for this type of brain tumour in the future," said report author Prof David Ellison.

"What was surprising about our results is that the catenin protein had previously been shown to be associated with aggressive behaviour in other cancers."

Rosie Clare, nine and from near Petersfield, was diagnosed with a brain tumour a year ago. For the past eight months she has been undergoing chemotherapy.

She has to take three different types of drugs and said it is not an easy treatment.

"I usually feel quite tired and quite achy and my eyes feel very sore and I just don't really feel like moving," she said.

'Avoid chemotherapy'

Her mother Lucy, says Rosie is coping well, but added: "Sometimes the main side effects are actually the symptoms that you don't necessarily see."

Rosie will probably not be tested for beta-catenin, because she has already started treatment.

But researchers believe that patients who carry the protein could, in the future, be spared unnecessary chemotherapy treatment.

The Samantha Dickson Research Trust wants more studies to be carried out into the link and hopes that every child who is diagnosed with a brain tumour can be tested for beta-catenin.


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