US radiation reimbursement manoeuvres: In a complicated episode which involved the Congressional "fiscal cliff" subject and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Medicare payments for the Swedish company Elekta's Gamma Knife have been cut. A report in the Wall Street Journal newspaper claimed that Varian lobbyists (a competitor of Elekta) allegedly "pushed" for this outcome. See here (Wall Street Journal subscription) and here.
Neon Roberts case: The seven year old UK boy Neon Roberts, whose mother took him into hiding to avoid treatment for his medulloblastoma brain tumour and later initiated an unsuccessful High Court case to prevent treatment, has now completed radiation therapy and will commence chemotherapy in April. He is in the care of his father.
On-line book: This is a link to a freely downloadable 638-page book (20.55 Mb) on neuro oncology subjects entitled "Evolution of the molecular biology of brain tumors and the therapeutic implications". The book, which was published in February, has been edited by Terry Lichtor and has 23 chapters.
Primary CNS Lymphoma (PCNSL): Research results from UC San Francisco have indicated the possibility of an alternative form of less toxic treatment for those who have this type of brain tumour. In an article freely downloadable from the Journal of Clinical Oncology, James Rubenstein writes: "CALGB 50202 (a trial) demonstrates for the first time to our knowledge that dose-intensive consolidation for PCNSL is feasible in the multicenter setting and yields rates of PFS and OS at least comparable to those of regimens involving WBRT(whole brain radiotherapy). On the basis of these encouraging results, an intergroup study has been activated comparing EA (etoposide plus cytarabine) consolidation with myeloablative chemotherapy in this randomized trial in PCNSL, in which neither arm involves WBRT."
Company developments: MagForce has received approval from the German regulatory authority BfArM to start the post-marketing clinical study of its NanoTherm therapy in recurrent glioblastoma. The study will be conducted in about 15 centres in Germany ... MRI Interventions' Clear Point system has now been coupled with laser ablation therapy in a GBM operation ... Del Mar Pharmaceuticals announced further positive data for its ongoing Phase I/II study of VAL-083 in patients with recurrent malignant glioma or secondary brain tumor ... Monteris Medical's AutoLITT NeuroBlate system has received approval from Health Canada for commercialization in Canada ... A stock analyst has reported that ImmunoCellular Therapeutics will issue an interim analysis of its ICT-107 therapy soon and that topline data on median overall survival will be available in 4Q 2013 ... Agenus Inc will present an abstract about its use of HSPPC-96 vaccination in newly diagnosed GBM at the AANS meeting in late April.
UK developments: The Brain Tumour Charity (formerly The Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust and newly merged with Brain Tumour UK) announced in March the awarding of ten grants totalling £1.5 million for brain tumour research covering both paediatric and adult brain tumours. Meanwhile, another UK-based organisation Brain Tumour Research commissioned a 48-page downloadable report from NPC (New Philanthropy Capital) about research flows, which reported that "Just 3.2% of site-specific research funding went to researching brain tumours in 2011. For comparison, breast cancer received 18.8% of site-specific research funding in 2011; Leukaemia 14.7%."
Anti-nausea drug: Researchers at the University of Adelaide (Australia) have found in laboratory studies that the anti-nausea drug Emend acts to stop "Substance P" and resulted in a marked reduction in brain tumour growth.
Mifepristone: Researchers in Mexico have found that the anti-progestin and anti-glucocorticoid drug mifepristone as used on glioblastoma xenografts could improve the efficacy of chemo-radiotherapy for glioblastoma.
TERT mutation: Researchers at Duke University (USA) have found TERT (telomerase reverse transcriptase) mutations in 83% of adult glioblastomas studied, making it more prevalent than any other kind of mutation in GBM and therefore a promising target for drug development.
Childhood brain tumours and pesticides: The results of an Australian case-control study of childhood brain tumours (CBT) suggest "that preconception pesticide exposure, and possibly exposure during pregnancy, is associated with an increased CBT risk. It may be advisable for both parents to avoid pesticide exposure during this time."
Using a patient's own fat: Researchers at Johns Hopkins (USA) have found in laboratory experiments that stem cell lines grown from a patient's own fat worked just as well as bone marrow as a source to create cancer-fighting mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and would avoid the more invasive harvesting from bone marrow. These MSCs could be used as delivery mechanisms when deposited into the surgical cavity following the removal of a brain tumour but they caution that the development of such methods are years away.
BRAF inhibitors: Researchers at the Children's Hospital at Philadelphia have established that BRAF inhibitors which were effective in BRAF-driven adult melanomas made brain tumours worse via an effect called "paradoxical activation". They have now identified a new experimental second-generation BRAF inhibitor that does not have this effect.
Low T3 (triidothyronine) syndrome: Researchers in Lithuania and the USA have suggested that pre-operative measurement of brain tumour patients' thyroid hormone concentrations could be useful for risk stratification of their post-operation outcome. Low T3 was associated with an increased risk of unfavourable outcome. There is also a correlation with preoperative depressive symptoms.
Important dates and information: The Romanian Third National Conference of Neuro-Oncology will be held in Cluj-Napoca during 17-20 April. IBTA Co-Director Kathy Oliver will be presenting at the conference. The Third International CNS Germ Cell Tumour Symposium will be held in Cambridge (UK) during 17-20 April. The abstract deadline for the European Cancer Congress (ECC) to be held in Amsterdam during September - October is 17 April. There is also important information about opportunities for cancer patient advocacy organisations at the ECC. The CNS track is available here. Ependymoma Awareness Day is 18 April. The Second Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Basic and Translational Research Conference will be held in Florida during 16-17 May. The abstract deadline for the 4th WFNO and 18th SNO meetings to be held in November is 22 May. The deadline for early advance registration for the Congress of the World Federation of Neuroscience Nurses to be held in Japan in September is 31 July. A two-day conference on Central Nervous System Malignancies will be held in Vienna (Austria) during 25-26 October. There is a novel opportunity for young investigators and clinicians (<40) to apply to be a "speaker for the day", involving waived registration fees. The Asian Society of Neuro Oncology will hold its 2014 meeting in Istanbul, its 2015 meeting in Cebu (Philippines), and its 2016 meeting in Australia.
IBTA Brain Tumour magazine: Twelve thousand copies of the 2013 edition of the IBTA's 116-page free Brain Tumour magazine have been printed in the UK. Close to 7,000 copies will be posted worldwide to those on our database for whom we have a valid postal/land address. We expect the distribution to take several weeks. If you are unsure if we have your contact details go to this link to submit the relevant information. Advance copies were distributed recently at the ASNO/ISNO conference in Mumbai (India), the EORTC/EANO/ESMO Trends in Central Nervous System Malignancies meeting in Prague (Czech Republic), and the BNA Festival of Neuroscience in London (UK). Copies will also be available from the IBTA slot in the Patient Advocacy booth at the ASCO conference in Chicago in June.
Thank you for all your continuing support.
Kathy Oliver (Co-Director)
PO Box 244, Tadworth, Surrey
KT20 5WQ, United Kingdom
Tel:+ (44) + (0) + 1737 813872
Fax: + (44) + (0) +1737 812712
Mob: + (44) + (0) + 777 571 2569