Research paves way for easier brain tumour diagnosis  

New research could pave the way to the earlier diagnosis of brain tumours through the development of a simple blood test for glioblastomas. 

Researchers from the University of Bristol in the UK, developed mathematical models to assess the current use of biomarkers in the detection of glioblastomas and how this diagnostic approach can be improved. 

In its study1, the team found that lowering the current biomarker threshold could lead to earlier detection of glioblastomas when looking at the glioblastoma biomarker Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP). The team also explored the impact of tumour characteristics and patient differences on detection and strategies for improvements using computational modelling.  

The research forms part of a wider University of Bristol-led Cancer Research UK project to develop an affordable, point of care blood test to diagnose brain tumours. This cross-disciplinary project combines biomarker discovery, development of fluorescent nanoparticle and new testing techniques with computational modelling.  

Official comments  

Dr Johanna Blee, lead author and Research Associate in the University of Bristol’s Department of Engineering Mathematics, said: “Our findings provide the basis for further clinical data on the impact of lowering the current detection threshold for the known biomarker, GFAP, to allow earlier detection of GBMs using blood tests. With further experimental data, it may also be possible to quantify tumour and patient heterogeneities and incorporate errors into our models and predictions for blood levels for different tumours. We have also demonstrated how our models can be combined with other diagnostics such as scans to enhance clinical insight with a view to developing more personalised and effective treatments. 

“These mathematical models could be used to examine and compare new biomarkers and tests for brain tumours as they emerge. We are hopeful this research will ultimately aid the development of a simple blood test for brain tumours, enabling earlier and more detailed diagnoses.” 



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