Brain Tumour Research

Baroness Jolly Excerpts
Thursday 19th November 2020

(2 months ago)

Lords Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell (Con)
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I hear the noble Lord’s words loud and clear. I reassure him that the good news is that Tessa Jowell left behind her in the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission an incredibly effective organisation that is holding the feet of Ministers firmly to the fire —not least through my noble friend Lord O’Shaughnessy, who is on my case in a very big way.

I recognise that this is one of the tricky scientific challenges of our age. We have struggled to tackle adult brain tumours for a very long time. There has to be investment in the basic science around them, in the techniques, such as the very focused radiology, and in provable therapeutics that work in the field. This is not going to happen overnight, but I reassure the noble Lord that we are committed to finding a solution.

Baroness Jolly Portrait Baroness Jolly (LD) [V]
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My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Reid, referred to Baroness Jowell’s final speech, when she told us not to give up fighting this pernicious cancer. The noble Lord, Lord O’Shaughnessy, the then Minister, gave the assurance that the Government would not cease support for research into new treatments. Can the Minister confirm how many more research programmes into brain tumour treatments and therapies have been funded by NIHR since then? Is he confident that enough is being done?

Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell (Con)
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My Lords, I have a table of all the brain tumour research projects that we have backed over the last 10 years and I would be very glad to share it with the noble Baroness in correspondence. The short answer is, not enough. I would like there to be more grants and of higher value, but I recognise the challenge. When I speak to the scientists—even Richard Gilbertson, who is a very measured practitioner in this area—they recognise that more work needs to be done at an earlier stage to ensure that they are the kinds of projects that the NIHR system can back. We need to have a conversation about how we can encourage the early-stage science and the creative drafting of fresh ideas for that pipeline. That is something that I am very keen to get on with and have a dialogue about.