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Last on

Sun 28 Aug 2011 17:00 BBC Radio 4

Duration:
40 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 23 August 2011

Patients with high grade brain tumours can expect to survive for little more than one more year, and that's with the best available surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. There's only one, very expensive drug available that can penetrate into the brain and attack the most aggressive tumours there, and nothing new on the horizon. For these patients, the outlook is as bleak as it can get. But ten years ago, researchers discovered that the out-of-fashion antidepressant drug clomipramine has apparently remarkable anti-tumour properties. What's more the treatment costs pennies, not hundreds or thousands of pounds. Yet these scientists have struggled to find anyone to back their research. And many patients are being given the drug without the scientific proof it is really helping them. Why is such a promising treatment going to waste? Gerry Northam investigates.

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