IBTA e-News – August 2013

By 15th August 2013e-News Archive

Dear Friend,

Existing drugs might help glioblastoma patients: Researchers have identified 18 new genes responsible for driving GBM brain tumours. The researchers believe that for about 15 per cent of patients whose tumours are driven by certain gene fusions, FDA-approved drugs that target those drivers are already available. They caution, however, that a complicated analysis is necessary to identify a tumour’s driver gene before a personalised glioblastoma treatment can become a reality.

Fertility of female survivors of childhood cancer: A study of infertility in female survivors of childhood cancer, involving patients from twenty-six Canadian and US institutions who were younger than 21 years at the time of diagnosis, has appeared in the journal Lancet Oncology.

The principal author Dr Sara E Barton has told the IBTA’s E News that “... our cohort included 323 female CNS tumour survivors. There was no increased risk of infertility for this particular group compared to other SURVIVORS, but they were included in the entire survivor cohort showing an increased risk of infertility compared to siblings. The relative risk was dependent on treatment agents (high dose alkylating agent chemotherapy or pelvic radiation) and not the cancer diagnosis per se. Interestingly, survivors receiving brain radiation conceived at a faster rate than other cancer survivors when they became pregnant”.

New 3D gel to study glioma cells: Researchers at the University of Illinois (USA) have developed a new 3D hydrogel for studying glioma cells and which enables them to increase or decrease the degree of malignancy in the studies by adding hyaluronic acid.

Everolimus and epilepsy: A small study in children who had been given the drug everolimus for their tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) has identified the drug as also having anti-epilepsy benefits. An international trial of patients whose epilepsy involves particular signalling patterns, is planned.

Baseball players and brain tumours: Another case of an unexplained historical cluster of brain tumors among a group of people, this time involving Phillies baseball players in the USA, has prompted discussion about the possible causes. One of the players cited is Tug McGraw, who died in 2004 and whose experience led to the formation of a not for profit foundation. But a local epidemiologist Jill Barnholtz-Sloan has cautioned: “As a brain tumor epidemiologist – and there aren’t very many of us worldwide – one of the most difficult things is to prove causation”.

Seasonality of diagnosis: Researchers in England have studied the month of diagnosis of 1,882 teenagers and young adults (15-24 years of age) with CNS tumours and have concluded that there is significant evidence of seasonality around the time of diagnosis for “other CNS tumours” with peaks in December and June. Birth peaks for those with “other Gliomas” (Gliomas other than Astrocytoma and Ependymoma) were observed in May and November.

Neurosurgeon faces tribunal for allegedly lying and falsifying doucments: A UK Medical Practitioners Tribunal has been told that a neurosurgeon had repeatedly “lied” to a patient, her husband, and his colleagues, about removing a woman’s brain tumour, when he had not. He told the woman he had removed 100 per cent of her tumour when he had only removed a tiny sample for a biopsy. The doctor told the woman “It’s all gone”. The doctor also allegedly altered a pathology report and after a third MRI several years later told the patient that her tumour had returned when he knew there had been no change in its presence. Comment: This is an extreme case of a doctor allegedly abusing the trust which should exist between patient and surgeon and highlights the need for this trust never to be compromised

Metastases: Scientists have claimed on the basis of a small study that contrary to previous findings patients with large melanoma brain metastases can be treated with large doses of interleukin-2 (HD IL-2). Meanwhile, there is a useful overview of the subject of the blood brain barrier and cerebral metastases in the July-August issue of Oncology News E-Newsletter. Also, A mouse-model experiment involving a combination of cellular therapy and gene therapy has shown promise for its possible use in breast cancer metastases to the brain.

Viruses and cancers: Scientists at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston (USA) have sequenced RNA from 3,775 malignant tumour samples from The Cancer Genome Atlas and have found that low and high grade gliomas were not associated with DNA viruses. This contradicts earlier suggestions of a possible connection.

Polio virus and brain tumors: Eight brain tumor patients at the  Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University Medical Center (USA) have been treated with a modified polio virus and one of them has had some success but doctors caution that not all brain tumour patients might be suitable for the treatment.

Brief notes:

The US-based Society for Neuro-Oncology is offering two special events for career development during its forthcoming Annual Scientific Meeting in November. One is a Round-Table Luncheon and the other is a Speed Networking and Career Development Reception. Pre-registration is required.

The US FDA granted Orphan Drug Designation to Austrian company Activartis on 26 June for use of its immunotherapy AVO113 for treatment of malignant glioma.

It has been announced that the 2014 Annual Meeting of the British Neuro Oncology Society (BNOS) will be held in Liverpool during 9-11 July 2014. Email here for further details.

Novocure has announced the first use in Japan of its NovoTTF therapy on a patient with recurrent glioblastoma. The treatment was provided in response to a compassionate use request.

Using mouse studies involving glioblastoma cells, US researchers have identified the protein cadherin-11 as playing an important role in cell migration and have suggested it might be an important therapeutic target.

Researchers in the USA hope to bring to a trial involving brain tumours a therapy (PAC-1) which has proved promising in pet dogs with spontaneously occurring lymphomas and osteoscarcomas.

A report has been made available of the Third International Central Nervous System (CNS) Germ Cell Tumour (GCT) Symposium held during April 2013 at the University of Cambridge (UK).

Andrew Selous MP is the new Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Brain Tumours in the UK Parliament.

Neon Roberts, the eight year old UK boy whose mother went on the run taking him with her last October because she opposed radiation therapy for his medulloblastoma, eventually received treatment after a Court battle and is reported to be doing well. His case will be the subject of a documentary on UK Channel 4 this Tuesday.

CytRx Corporation announced that it plans to conduct a Phase IIb clinical trial with aldoxorubicin in relapsed glioblastoma. It claimed that the therapy has produced statistically significant efficacy in animal studies and complete results will be presented at the European Cancer Congress (ECC) meeting in Amsterdam in September-October. The IBTA will have a display booth in Patient Advocacy Square at this Congress. Please make yourself known to our representatives.

Novogen advises that its anti-GBM drug CS-6 is undergoing laboratory testing in the USA, France and Hong Kong with a view to clinical testing in the First Quarter of 2014.

ImunoCellular Therapeutics has announced an open-label investigator-sponsored phase 1 clinical trial of its ICT-121 cancer vaccine for patients with recurrent GBM. (NB this is different from its better-known ICT-107 therapy).

Northwest Biotherapeutics has announced that the German regulatory agency, PEI, has decided to allow the Company’s Phase III trial for its immune therapy DCVax for brain tumours to proceed in Germany after three modifications have been made to the trial design and associated documents.

Fine for mother of brain tumour patient: A UK mother was threatened with a fine of £400 (about $620 USD) because her son missed a day of school nearly nine years ago due to severe headaches as a result of an undiagnosed brain tumour. The UK Courts and Tribunal Service, which initiated the fine, was reported to be  investigating the incident “as a matter of urgency” and it was later decided “in the public interest” not to proceed with the case.

Brain tumour patient told to seek work: A mother of three in the UK who had a brain tumour died three weeks after being told to seek work by an agency contracted to carry out medical assessments to test whether disabled people should continue receiving (government) benefits. Her father said that the woman had never been capable of working and planned to appeal the decision before her health deteriorated. Comment: We include these occasional stories of bureaucratic ineptitude and mischance to demonstrate the continuing need for raised community awareness when dealing with people with a brain tumour.

Thank you for all your continuing support.

Denis Strangman (Chair and Co-Director)
International Brain Tumour Alliance IBTA
www.theibta.org

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

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