Mandy Kloppers

Patients with brain cancer benefit from award-winning partnership between UK health tech, charities and US biotech.

healthy brain

Hexham-based startup RareCan has been awarded Gold in this year’s Patient Partnership Index for launching an innovative clinical trial screening service for patients with brain tumours, in partnership with leading charities brainstrust, OurBrainBank, The Brain Tumour Charity, and US biotech Fore Biotherapeutics.

Brain cancer is a devastating disease with severe impacts on patients and their families. The five-year survival rate for malignant brain tumours is only about 36%, and this drops to just 5% for glioblastoma, the most aggressive type, with an average life expectancy of just 12-18 months from diagnosis.

The primary goal of RareCan’s screening service is to match the right patients with the right clinical trials. This approach benefits cancer patients by enabling quicker access to clinical trials, which is crucial for those with urgent medical needs. The service is also expected to have a significant impact on the healthcare industry by accelerating recruitment and reducing dropout rates during clinical trials, ensuring higher confidence in patient-trial compatibility from the outset.

Working closely with partners across the brain cancer charity network, RareCan ensures that patients are offered the most appropriate trials, enhancing their chances of finding effective treatments. The service leverages the strengths of each partner, puts the power to find suitable trials in patients hands and incorporates advanced genetic testing to match patients to precision medicine trials.


It’s difficult to convey the sheer volume of things you have to cope with on receiving a brain tumour diagnosis – information, emotions, logistics – it can be overwhelming. RareCan’s team has been brilliant, doing the leg work in assessing the clinical trial options and providing me and my oncologist with the right information really quickly.” Chris Neal, 38, brain tumour patient.

Looking for a clinical trial is like looking for a needle in a haystack. The Rarecan service simplifies this process, giving patients and clinicians a much-needed lifeline,” Dr Helen Bulbeck, Director of policy and services, brainstrust

The Patient Partnership Index awards feature some of the big names in global life sciences, so we are thrilled that a partnership led by a UK startup has been recognised with a Gold Award. There’s been plenty of talk with the election looming of the importance of both the startup sector and inward investment from the global pharmaceutical industry, and this partnership demonstrates both.” Piers Kotting, CEO, RareCan.

Chris, is a 38 year old from Middlesbrough with a wife and two small children. Chris was working as an engineer in the offshore wind industry when out of the blue he was diagnosed with a grade 2 astrocytoma in 2023 and had surgery in June 2023 to remove the tumour. He has just had a second surgery in May of this year and pathology showed progression to grade 4. He is waiting to see about clinical trials with Rarecan’s help before starting radio/chemotherapy.

Chris Neal cancer patient

Organisational Information:

About RareCan

RareCan is a Hexam-based start up and recent graduate of the Francis Crick Institute’s KQ Lans Programme. RareCan is building a digital health platform dedicated to improving outcomes for individuals with rarer cancers. It connects patients, researchers, and healthcare professionals to facilitate the sharing of information and resources. The platform aims to accelerate research and access to clinical trials, ultimately helping to develop better treatments for these rarer and often understudied diseases.

About brainstrust

Brainstrust is a UK-based charity that provides support to individuals affected by brain tumours. Brainstrust offers a range of services, including emotional and practical support, information resources, and assistance in navigating the healthcare system. Brainstrust aims to improve the quality of life and outcomes for brain tumour patients and their families by providing access to a community of support and expertise. Additionally, the charity advocates for better research, treatments, and care standards for brain tumour patients.

About The Brain Tumour Charity

The Brain Tumour Charity is a leading UK-based charity dedicated to improving survival rates and quality of life for patients with brain tumours. The Brain Tumour Charity funds scientific research to understand brain tumours better and develop new treatments; offers a range of support services for patients and their families, such as counselling, support groups, and information resources; and works to raise public awareness about brain tumours and advocate for policy changes to improve patient care and research funding.

About OurBrainBank

OurBrainBank is a UK- and US-based non-profit organisation dedicated to transforming glioblastoma (GBM) from a terminal diagnosis into a manageable condition. The organisation uses a patient-led approach to accelerate research and treatment development for GBM, the most aggressive form of brain cancer. Key initiatives include a mobile app that allows GBM patients to track their symptoms and share data with researchers, facilitating real-time, patient-driven research; and a community for patients and caregivers to share experiences and support each other.

About Fore Bio

Fore Biotherapeutics is a precision oncology company focused on developing targeted cancer therapies. The company leverages advanced genetic and molecular profiling to identify and develop treatments tailored to specific genetic mutations found in various cancers. Their approach aims to create highly effective, personalised therapies that improve patient outcomes by targeting the underlying genetic causes of cancer. By combining cutting-edge science with a patient-centric approach, Fore Biotherapeutics seeks to bring innovative, targeted treatments to patients with difficult-to-treat cancers.

About the Patient Partnership Awards

The Patient Partnership Index is a ground-breaking initiative from specialist health communications agency OVID Health. The inaugural Patient Partnership Index was launched in May 2020, offering pharmaceutical and biotech companies an opportunity to showcase, benchmark and evaluate the quality of their partnerships with patient groups. This year the Index has been endorsed by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, the UK trade organisation for over 120 companies producing prescription medicines, and by the Healthcare Communications Association.


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