IBTA e-News – November 2013

By 15th November 2013e-News Archive

Dear Friend,

Society for Neuro Oncology (SNO) Conference: The Annual Scientific meeting of SNO will be held in San Francisco during 21-24 November, with the Education Day taking place on 21 November. It will be held in conjunction with the Quadrennial Conference of the World Federation of Neuro Oncology (WFNO), which was last held in Yokohama, Japan, in 2009. The preliminary program is available here. The IBTA will have a display table at the meeting and we invite our contacts and others to visit us and introduce themselves.

Teenager with brain tumour reaches large audience: Olivia Wise, who is a 16 year old Toronto student with a brain tumour has had more than 900,000 people view her singing Katy Perry’s song “Roar” on You Tube. The song is about staying strong through adversity. A fund set up in Olivia’s name to raise funds for brain tumour research and pediatric cancers has raised a significant amount. Meanwhile a mother from Ontario in Canada has raised nearly $80,000 CAN in donations, via an on-line campaign, for Avastin to treat her brain tumour after the Provincial Government would not fund it.

European Cancer Congress: Our suggestion in the last issue of the E-News that there was not much to report in the brain tumour presentations at the recent European Cancer Congress in Amsterdam might have been overly pessimistic. An article in The Oncology Report quoted Dr Roger Stupp, who presented the CENTRIC trial results for cilengitide, as saying “I’m not sure we are at the end of targeting integrins …”. Dr L Burt Nabors, in commenting on the results of the companion CORE study also suggested that further studies could look at possible biomarkers.

CUSP9 treatment: In our May 2013 issue of the E News we reported:

Exciting development:  A consortium of 28 brain tumour researchers from institutions around the world recently published a paper on a conceptually new treatment approach for relapsed glioblastoma (GBM). The approach is called “CUSP9” which stands for “Coordinated undermining of survival paths with nine repurposed drugs”.

According to the paper’s abstract, the CUSP9 treatment protocol is based on “a combination of drugs not traditionally thought of as cytotoxic chemotherapy agents but that have a robust history of being well-tolerated and are already marketed and used for other non-cancer indications.”  The criteria for choosing the drugs included those that were pharmacologically well-characterised; had a low likelihood of side effect burden; showed evidence of interfering with a “recognized, well-characterized growth promoting element of glioblastoma” and when coordinated as an ensemble, “had reasonable likelihood of concerted activity against key biological factors of glioblastoma growth.”

Nine drugs met these criteria: aprepitant, artesunate, auranofin, captopril, copper gluconate, disulfiram, ketoconazole, nelfinavir and sertraline.  Lead author Professor Marc-Eric Halatsch (University of Ulm, Germany) said: "While the CUSP9 protocol is not clinically validated yet, a reasonable empirical and theoretical basis suggests safety and efficacy of this approach." 

The IBTA has always kept as open a mind as possible with regard to new treatment approaches for GBM. We are featuring a link to the CUSP9 paper in this e-news (see above) to highlight the need to look at innovative ways of treating GBM and therefore invite our readers to share any comments they have on the CUSP9 approach. In the first instance comments for public display can be emailed to the IBTA Chair who will upload them to a webpage. Later, we plan to create a Bulletin-Board type webpage for automated comment if there is on-going discussion. The comments page is located here and already contains an overview from one of the IBTA's caregiver advisors. Comments by patients, clinicians, and researchers would also be welcome.

We did not receive much feedback but Professor Halatsch has now advised the IBTA E-News that the group Reliable Cancer Therapies has allocated €23,000 to his group to submit a clinical trial application to the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM). Comment: The inherent challenge of this ingenious proposed therapy is in designing a trial that can generate meaningful correlations between its particular components and any efficacy. Pending any trial it is not beyond implementation in an individual case if a neuro-oncologist believed they could implement it in an ethical and professionally responsible manner.

Company developments: German company Immatics Biotechnologies GmbH has signed an agreement with Swiss Company Roche to collaborate in the areas of cancer vaccine and immunotherapy. Immatics has been experimenting with a glioma vaccine IMA950 but a Roche company person has advised the IBTA E News that “IMA950 is not part of this deal. Development will continue in collaboration with Cancer Research UK” …There has been a spirited debate on an Investor website about the potential of ImmunoCellular’s brain tumour vaccine ICT-107 with a follow-up study to be presented at the SNO meeting … Novocure has announced that the USA Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the NovoTAL (Transducer Array Layout) System through a Premarket Approval supplement. This system is said to optimize transducer array placement for Novo TTF therapy … Dr Ben Lipps, CEO of the German-based Magforce has told shareholders that the company will be concentrating on its therapy’s application to GBM in Germany, EU 27 countries and the USA … GW Pharmaceuticals announced that it has commenced a Phase 1b/2a clinical trial of its cannabinoid product platform for use in recurrent GBM … Elsevier Business Intelligence has selected Angiochem’s ANG1005 brain tumour therapy as one of the “Top 10 Oncology products to Watch” … Specialised Therapeutics Australia has obtained approval from the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for Gliolan for use in surgical visualisation of malignant brain tumour tissue. This brings to 31 the number of countries where Gliolan has been approved.

Bologna conference: At the 5th International Conference on Future Trends in the Treatment of Brain Tumors (If the link will not open in the Chrome browser, try IE) held during 8-9 November, Conference Chairperson Dr Alba A. Brandes drew attention to the TAMIGA trial, of which she is the Principal Investigator, and which seeks to identify the efficacy of continuous bevacizumab following progressive disease in GBM patients. She advises that it has recently started to enrol patients and there will be a poster about the trial at the forthcoming SNO meeting. At the Bologna conference Kathy Oliver, co-director of the IBTA, received an award for her generous support and strong passion to advocate for “solidarity, awareness and hope”.

Mexican prisoner with brain tumour: A Mexican indigenous teacher who was jailed in 2002 for 60 years because of his alleged involvement in the ambush murder of seven police officers has been pardoned and freed by the Mexican President. He is currently receiving treatment for a brain tumour.

TWEAK-Fn14: A study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and led by Dr Nhan Tran indicates that a cellular pathway interaction known as TWEAK-Fn14 could be a viable target for brain tumour therapy. Dr Mike Berens from TGen described the finding as “representing a significant step”.

Polymer method to deliver chemotherapy to the brain: Researchers at the University of Nottingham (UK) have experimented on a sheep’s brain and other non-human resources to demonstrate the feasibility of moulding a polymer material to a brain tumour patient’s surgical cavity and mixing it with chemotherapies which are then released slowly after the incision has been closed. The first clinical test is anticipated in three years’ time.

Pediatric low grade gliomas (LGG): Researchers at Johns Hopkins, using laboratory studies, have identified the mTOR pathway as being highly active in pediatric LGG. There are drugs, such as rapamycin, that block proteins in this pathway.

UK doctors failed to diagnose brain tumour: A sixteen year old UK girl has died after thirteen doctors (four paediatric doctors, six GPs and three A&E doctors) failed to detect her brain tumour. An MRI ordered in November 2012 was not undertaken until January 2013 and she died eight days after the results were delivered. One A&E doctor refused to give her a scan because they were reserved for “life and death situations”.

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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