A new initiative, which aims to revolutionise brain cancer research in the UK, has been launched.

The establishment of three research centres of excellence is expected to step up long-term research into one of the major killers of children and adults under 40.

The centres will become active fundraising partners with the charity Brain Tumour Research (BTR). This will boost the partnership already in existence at the University of Portsmouth, which currently receives £1 million a year from the charity. With the four centres each receiving £1m a year over five years this paves the way for an investment of £20m.

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The money is raised by members of the public, with many supporters being affected by tumours in their own lives or having lost a loved one.

A spokeswoman for the charity said the collaboration would pursue sustainable and continuous research in an underfunded field.

The Queen Mary University of London in collaboration with UCL Institute of Neurology, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (London) and Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry join the already established Centre of Excellence at the University of Portsmouth.

BTR chief executive Sue Farrington Smith said: "The centres will form a new and powerful network, collaborating with each other and other institutes, both within the UK and internationally, to accelerate progress in brain tumour research."