News & Blog

Brain Tumor Research Highlights: May 2016

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Over the years, NBTS has given more than $32 million to brain tumor research projects. We’re very proud of the impact this funding has made in advancing the neuro-oncology field closer to better treatments and ultimately a cure. And while NBTS is currently focused on driving our flagship research projects – like the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative – forward, there also continues to be great scientific research efforts happening in the neuro-oncology field, en masse. This is critical, as no one researcher, one lab, or one institution can cure this disease alone. Below are highlights of some newly published research from the brain tumor scientific and medical community, compiled by NBTS Director of Research & Scientific Policy, Ann Kingston, PhD and NBTS Research Programs Associate, Amanda Bates:


Patterns of Care and Outcomes of Adjuvant Radiotherapy for Meningiomas: A Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results and Medicare Linked Analysis: Amsbaugh M, Ugiliweneza B, Burton E, et al. (2016) Cureus 8(4): e567. DOI 10.7759/cureus.567 – link to paper

Adjuvant radiotherapy is commonly offered to patients after gross total and subtotal resection of WHO Grade II/III meningiomas because of decreasing progression-free survival with increasing tumor grade. In this study, data collected (from the database, SEER-Medicare) over a 10-year period 2000-2009 showed that less than 20% of patients received adjuvant radiotherapy with either fractionated radiotherapy (XRT) or stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS). Patients with higher grade tumors, larger tumors, or incomplete resections were more likely to receive adjuvant therapy. Though further work is needed, this study found that patients receiving SRS had better survival and fewer repeat craniotomies than those receiving surgery alone regardless of the extent of resection. In addition, meningioma patients with partial resection who received stereotactic radiosurgery had better survival than those who received fractionated radiotherapy.

Dr. Susan Pannullo, an NBTS Board of Directors Member, and expert in radiosurgery for brain tumors, will provide a detailed blog on radiosurgery -and its application for multiple tumor types – in the coming weeks.

Anti-CD47 Treatment Stimulates Phagocytosis of Glioblastoma by M1 and M2 Polarized Macrophages and Promotes M1 Polarized Macrophages In Vivo: Zhang M, Hutter G, Kahn SA et al PLoS ONE 11(4): e0153550. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0153550 – link to paper

Macrophages are cells of the innate immune system and have been shown to be present within the glioblastoma (GBM) microenvironment. Macrophages have demonstrated anti-tumor potential given their inherent ability to devour damaged cells…but different cancers can use the molecule CD47 as a “don’t eat me” signal to escape from being attacked and eliminated by macrophages. Results of this study show that a blocking anti-CD47 antibody can enhance GBM tumor cell phagocytosis (eating of the damaged cells) by macrophage subtypes in the lab and in mouse models, resulting in prolonged survival and a significantly reduced tumor burden. These findings support further investigation of anti-CD47 as an immunotherapeutic approach for GBM.

Co-incidentally, NBTS and Oligo Nation have just funded a research project that will investigate the suitability of an anti-CD47 immunotherapeutic approach for oligodendroglioma. See the press release here.

Integrated Multi-omics Analysis of Oligodendroglial Tumours Identifies Three Subgroups of 1p/19q co-deleted Gliomas: Kamoun A, Idbaih A, Dehais C, et al, and POLA network (2016) Nat Commun 7, Apr 19;7:11263. doi: 10.1038/ncomms11263. – link to paper

The very recently revised World Health Organization (WHO) classification has proposed the use of IDH mutation and the 1p/19q co-deletion status to provide an integrated histo-molecular diagnosis of oligodendroglioma tumors. In this study, researchers used further integrated analysis of the transcriptome (gene reading machinery of a cell), genome (complete set of DNA and all genes) and methylome (chemical tags that determine which parts of the genome are available for decoding) of 156 oligodendroglioma patients to identify three subgroups within 1p/19q co-deleted tumors. These subgroups show specific expression patterns of nervous system cell types: oligodendrocyte, oligodendrocyte precursor cell (OPC), and neuronal lineage type cells. Although, the clinical significance of these subgroupings remains to be determined, the results may help identify patient subsets that would be expected to have differing clinical courses (and thus perhaps, different treatment plans) or be at risk for early progression.

Phase II Evaluation of Sunitinib in the Treatment of Recurrent or Refractory High-Grade Glioma or Ependymoma in Children: a Children’s Oncology Group Study ACNS1021: Wetmore C, Daryani VM, Billups CA, et al. Cancer Med. Apr 25. doi: 10.1002/cam4.713. [Epub ahead of print] – link to paper

Sunitinib is a drug that inhibits vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR), platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR) and stem cell factor receptor (KIT), which are highly expressed by some high-grade brain tumors. This study, involving 30 patient,s found that at 15mg/m2 sunitinib was reasonably well-tolerated but did not produce anti-tumor efficacy in children with recurrent or refractory high-grade glioma or ependymoma, and as a result the trial has been terminated. However, the role of sunitinib in combination with radiation and/or cytotoxic chemotherapy may be of potential interest to explore in pediatric patients in the future.

A Phase I Trial of TPI 287 as a Single Agent and in Combination With Temozolomide in Patients With Refractory or Recurrent Neuroblastoma or Medulloblastoma: Mitchell D, Bergendahl G, Ferguson W, et al. (2016) Pediatr Blood Cancer. 63(1):39-46. – link to paper

A phase 1 study designed to define a safe dose range for TPI 287 (a novel anti-microtubule agent of the taxane family) in pediatric neuroblastoma and medulloblastoma patients found that TPI 287 could be tolerated at a dose of 125 mg/m2 with manageable toxicity. This study suggested that TPI 287 may be effective in treating recurrent or refractory neuroblastoma and medulloblastoma patients. A dose of 125 mg/m2 TPI 287 is currently being assessed for its anti-tumor efficacy in a Phase I/II trial assessing a new formulation of the drug.


If you want to help fund research for new and better treatments for brain tumors – and ultimately a cure – please consider making a gift here.

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