IBTA e-News – July 2011

By 12th July 2011e-News Archive

Dear Friend,

Indirubins: Researchers from the Ohio State University Medical Center have discovered that derivatives of the compound indirubin inhibit the migration of both glioma and endothelial cells in vitro and in vivo. Indirubin is the active ingredient in the Chinese traditional medicine Dang Gui Long Hui Wan and is used in Asia as a treatment for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). The research team, co-led by Dr E. Antonio Chiocca and Dr Sean Lawler, found that the indirubin derivatives inhibited glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3), a protein kinase implicated in tumour cell motility. Importantly, the indirubins were able to block the migration of both the tumour cells and the endothelial cells, which suggests a treatment that can target glioma invasion and angiogenesis simultaneously. The Ohio researchers hope that their work can progress to clinical trials if further funding can be obtained. Dr Sean Lawler, who has returned to the UK, is following up the research at the Leeds Brain Tumour Research Laboratory which has a Facebook website here.

Promising therapies: Monteris Medical Inc. has raised close to $9 million in new private equity, to launch its product into the market. Its AutoLITT system uses a thin laser probe inserted into a tumour through a hole in the skull. Using specialized technology, the probe can be manipulated precisely to heat and kill tumour cells, avoiding damage to surrounding, healthy brain tissue. MagForce Nanotechnologies has established a treatment centre for its NanoTherm therapy for brain tumours at Charite-Universitatsmedizin, in Berlin, beginning commercialization of its products. MagForce said it is in discussions with medical institutions to establish more treatment centres, and is working to make the therapy available internationally. Threshold Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has announced that the University of Texas at San Antonio initiated a clinical trial of TH-302 in combination with bevacizumab in patients with recurrent high grade astrocytoma including glioblastoma. TH-302 is a novel small molecule hypoxia-targeted prodrug. Meanwhile, Peregrine Pharmaceuticals Inc is preparing for a meeting with the US FDA in the fourth quarter of 2011 to discuss a Phase III trial design involving Cotara. Diffusion Pharmaceuticals LLC announced that trans sodium crocetinate (TSC), the company’s lead drug candidate, has been granted an Orphan Drug Designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme.

Headsmart: The UK HeadSmart campaign aims to promote awareness of childhood brain tumour symptoms among parents, GPs and other health professionals to make earlier diagnosis of brain tumours a reality for many more of the children and young people who experience them.  It can take up to three months for a child to be diagnosed in the UK- three times longer than in other countries including the USA.  Delays in diagnosis contribute to a higher death rate and lifelong disability, which child brain tumour survivors are ten times more likely to suffer from than other children. The campaign is the result of a partnership between Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust (SDBTT), The Health Foundation, the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre at Nottingham (CBTRC) and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH).  It is also supported by the Royal College of GPs.

Brain tumour milestones: When did researchers perform the first CT scan on a woman with a suspected brain tumour?  In what year did the World Health Organization develop a universal system for classifying brain tumours?  2009 was the year in which scientists learned that brain tumours with an alteration of which genes are less aggressive than those without this mutation?  Learn all this and more on ASCOs new webpage called CancerProgress.Net.  This site is intended to provide an easily accessible, visual history of advances against major types of cancer in every area of patient care, from molecularly targeted therapies to quality of life. CancerProgress.Net includes a section on brain tumours and there are also downloadable slides and links to other resources.  On the timeline for brain tumours, move your cursor over various dots and words to reach the specific information mentioned above.

Future SNO conferences: From the SNO (Society for Neuro-Oncology) News: 2011 Orange County, California; 2012 Washington (DC) Hilton; 2013 Mariott Marquis Hotel, San Francisco, plus WFNO Quadrennial Conference; 2014 Lowes Miami Beach Hotel; 2015 Marriott Rivercentre, San Antonio, Texas. International scholarships: “Eight international travel scholarships in the amount of $1500 each will be available for the 16th Annual Scientific Meeting of SNO which will be held on November 17-20, 2011, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Orange County, California.  Scholarships will be awarded at the discretion of the SNO leadership for each of the following geographical regions (one per region): Central America & the Caribbean, Central and Southern Africa, China & associated countries, Eastern Europe, Far East and Australasia, Indian Sub-Continent, North Africa & the Middle East and South America.” Deadline is 29 August.

Webcast: The 134 EGrand Round session organised by the European School of Oncology (ESO) on 17 February was a 43-minute discussion by Dr Roger Stupp (Switzerland) on “Decision Making and Treatment of Malignant Glioma”. Go first to this webpage and you will be asked to register. Dr. Olavo Feher, Instituto do Cancer do Estado de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil, led the discussion period during which Dr Stupp emphasised the need for randomised trials and mentioned that the overall better supportive care for patients was a contributing factor in their survival. The webinair features Dr Stupp speaking in a frame accompanied by 46 slides in the same webpage.

The 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress takes place from 23 to 27 September in Stockholm, Sweden. It will bring together the ECCO, ESMO, and ESTRO Congresses. The Congress features a central nervous system track (25-26 September) focussing on the latest developments in neuro-oncology with expert speakers from around the world.  Also of note at this Congress is the Patient Advocacy/Ethics track taking place on the same weekend.  IBTA Co-Director Kathy Oliver will be Co-Chairing and presenting at the session on Rare Cancers. UK neurosurgeon Garth Cruickshank and neuro-oncologist David Walker will also be presenting in the Patient Track sessions on involving patient advocates in the design of clinical trials and Ethical Learnings from Paediatric Cancer Research.  For advance programme details see here. Patient advocates may apply for Patient Advocate Participation Grants. The grants include a travel allowance of up to Euros 400 per person; up to two nights accommodation to the value of Euros 250 per person per night; and free Congress registration (which is valued at Euros 225).  The deadline for applications for the Grants is 8 August. For more information please contact Ms. Mala Heal, ECCO Patient Affairs & Communication Coordinator via e-mail at: mala.heal@ecco-org.eu or telephone + 32 2 775 29 32 (Brussels).

Cycling winner and brain tumour tribute: Speaking to the crowd and a television audience of millions after winning the prestigious Tour de France cycle race in July, Cadell Evans paid tribute to his former coach the late Aldo Sassi who died from a brain tumour last December. An emotional Cadell said that Sassi never stopped believing in him and his win was a tribute to Sassi and in memory of his passing. Although numerically uncommon brain tumours can have an impact on many people, not just a person’s immediate family.

Taekwondo brain tumour champion: Fifty-four year old brain tumor patient Ali Bahcetepe (Turkey) has won the world title in taekwondo only seven months after brain surgery. Ali underwent an operation in December 2010 for a life-threatening brain tumor. Despite all their efforts the doctors could only remove half of his brain tumor safely. Ali won the gold medal at the International Taekwondo Championship in Chuncheon, Korea, where he competed with healthy athletes.

Australian Parliamentary Inquiry: Representatives of our supporting organisation Brain Tumour Alliance Australia, including the Chair of IBTA, appeared before an Australian Senate Inquiry on 26 July into that country’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. They advanced the case for special recognition of the less common cancers, including brain tumours, in regulatory evaluations.

Cats and brain tumours: There has been very extensive reporting in the popular media of the suggestion by researchers Frederic Thomas and Kevin Lafferty of the Centre national de la recherche scientifique in the publication Biology Letters that cats, via the brain parasite Toxoplasma gondii, may cause an increase in brain tumours in humans. The researchers found that brain cancer was 1.8 times more common in countries where T.gondii was most common, than in those where it was virtually absent. But an on-line Science blog from Ed Yong quotes researcher (Professor) Patricia McKinney of the University of Leeds as saying: “This is a technically sound hypothesis-generating paper and, viewed as such, is interesting. It doesn’t tell us much, other than pointing towards some further investigation.” This blog is also quoted in a detailed commentary on the Cancer Research UK website.

Ed Yong’s blog also states: “This study is an example of an “ecological study”, one of the weakest designs in the hierarchy of medical research. Looking at differences between entire countries says nothing about the risks faced by the individual people living in those countries. At best, studies like this can suggest questions that are worth addressing in the future; at worst, they are shots in the dark that neither support not disprove a hypothesis. These particular results simply point to a correlation between T.gondii and brain cancer, and do not imply that the parasite causes the cancer. The opposite may be true – it’s not implausible that brain tumours increase the risk of T.gondii, given that such tumours can weaken the immune system, which might make parasite infections more likely. Alternatively, something else could affect the risk of both brain cancer and T.gondii infection. Once again, weakened immune systems top the list.”

Thank you for 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

Subscribe to IBTA's e-News!