Last year, progress continued to build in the fight against brain tumors. Two products were given FDA approval for use in the treatment of brain tumors, the first such approvals since the Optune device was approved for use in newly diagnosed glioblastoma patients in 2015.
There is still much work to be done, but advances are being made, and, together, we’re moving forward toward our ultimate goal of cures. So, what should the brain tumor community hope and look-out for in the coming year? As we’ve done for the past two years, we’ve reached out to some of the leading experts in the brain tumor scientific and medical field to get their thoughts, predictions and hopes for brain tumor research and treatment development in 2018 (note: some responses have been edited slightly for clarity):
- “I expect that the confluence of innovation in clinical trial design, diagnostic technologies, and data sharing will yield more robust predictors of drug response and begin to transform current brain tumor therapy.” – Dr. Ingo Mellinghoff, Vice Chair for Research, Department of Neurology; Evnin Family Chair in Neuro-Oncology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
- “2018 will brings us progress in the understanding and treatment of brain tumors, for starters in molecular defined subgroups. The integration of molecular diagnostics and targeted treatments will begin to pay off!” – Dr. Martin van den Bent, Head of the Neuro-Oncology Unit of the Daniel den Hoed Cancer Center of Erasmus University Hospital, Netherlands
- “In 2018, I anticipate the field of neuro-oncology will move towards a new paradigm placing a greater emphasis on better understanding of drug delivery to brain tumors, the capacity of the drug to positively impact the tumor and its microenvironment, and the mechanisms by which the tumor escapes from the anti-tumor activity of the drug. Greater importance will be placed on biomarker-driven adaptive and early phase clinical trials based on thoroughly vetted preclinical data.” – Dr. John de Groot, Professor, and Chairman ad interim, Department of Neuro-Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
- “I expect that 2018 will bring additional breakthroughs in the application and analysis of ‘big data’ to neuro-oncology. To date, the information regarding tumor biology, genomics, treatment, imaging, and outcomes have been focused on individuals and smaller groups of patients. Application of new technologies and improved data sharing will allow the field to expand these efforts over much larger populations, and to identify new biologic and therapeutic opportunities.” – Dr. Howard Coleman, Director of Medical Neuro-Oncology at Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah
- “We predict that molecular diagnostics will become an increasingly essential part of precisely defining biological subsets of brain tumors, with benefits for directing basic research, planning clinical trials and optimizing patient management. We hope that initial guidelines for how to more rapidly integrate such testing into routine practice will also be provided through the cIMPACT-NOW consortium.” – Drs. David Jones & Stefan Pfister, from the Pediatric Neuro-Oncology program at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) at the University of Heidelberg, Germany
- “I think that immunotherapy will be found to be effective in specific subsets of patients. In particular, those that have a “hyper-mutation” signature will show dramatic improvements with immunotherapy. I [also] predict we will be using molecular markers more to grade gliomas as well classify them. There will be an increased frequency of glioblastoma, WHO grade IV because of this.” – Dr. Daniel Brat, Chair, Department of Pathology, Magerstadt Professor of Pathology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Memorial Healthcare
- “A central issue that confounds successful treatment of patients with GBM is the heterogeneous nature of this aggressive tumor. I predict in 2018, as a result of the collective effort of our Defeat GBM team, we will leverage our understanding that these tumors form a complex, but targetable, eco-system, and will begin to implement approaches that tackle this aspect of the tumor, leading to improved outcomes for patients.” – Dr. Frank Furnari, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, University of California San Diego
- “We have come to appreciate that brain tumors are different immunologically that other tumors and large scale concerted efforts are underway to understand the unique immune microenvironment of brain tumors. Findings will guide us in forming more rationale immunotherapy strategies for brain tumors.” – Dr. Michael Lim, Director of Brain Tumor Immunotherapy, Professor of Neurosurgery, Johns Hopkins Medicine
Advances in brain tumor research and treatments are accelerated by the dedicate and generous support of the brain tumor community and philanthropic individuals, corporations, and organizations. To help speed the quest for a cure, consider a gift, here. Thank you for your ongoing support and commitment to finding cures!