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IBTA e-News

The monthly bulletin for our
international brain tumour community

June 2016

Headline news

This month has been a particularly busy one for brain tumour-related news, owing to various conferences. We hope that you find this longer-than-usual e-News helpful and, as always, we value your feedback.

“We’ve reached an inflection point in our fight against cancer” announces US Vice President Biden at ASCO 2016

Speaking at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO 2016), held in Chicago from June 3 – 7, US Vice President Joe Biden, whose son died of a brain tumour, said that greater collaboration and a “change in mind-set” is key to achieving the US government’s “Cancer Moonshot” initiative’s goal of finding vaccine-based immunotherapies against cancer. “It requires a lot more openness – open data, open collaboration and above all, open minds,” he said. The speech coincided with the official launch of the Genomic Data Commons, a public database for clinical genomic data that is overseen and funded by the National Cancer Institute. Read more. (Video available here.) This year’s Brain Tumour magazine also features an article by Dr Anna D. Barker, which discusses the groundbreaking GBM AGILE Trial, and pictures Vice President Joe Biden with key leaders of the trial. Read the article on our website here.

Two studies find that elderly glioblastoma patients live longer with combined chemotherapy and radiation

Results from a randomised clinical trial reported at ASCO 2016 have found that glioblastoma patients aged over 65 have significantly increased survival with combined radiation therapy and temozolomide chemotherapy, compared to either radiation therapy or chemotherapy given alone. 562 patients were recruited in the trial: one-year and two-year survival rates were 37.8% and 10.4% with combined chemoradiotherapy, versus 22.2% and 2.8% with radiation therapy alone. Read more. (A more detailed article discussing these findings is available here.) Separate research published in JAMA Neurology which analysed records of 16,717 elderly glioblastoma patients from the US National Cancer Database also found that combined radiation and chemotherapy improved survival (9.0 months), compared to either radiotherapy (4.7 months) or chemotherapy (4.3 months) alone. Read more.

Study gives evidence to treat grade 3 anaplastic glioma with chemotherapy following radiotherapy

Findings from the phase 3 CATNON trial have shown that giving temozolomide after radiation therapy improves survival in anaplastic glioma without 1p/19q gene deletions (a marker for poorer response to chemotherapy). Estimated five-year survival in patients who received adjuvant temozolomide was 56% compared to 44% who did not, and disease progression was delayed by more than two years with adjuvant chemotherapy. “Until this study, doctors had no evidence to support the use of adjuvant temozolomide in patients with grade 3 anaplastic glioma,” said Prof. Martin J. van den Bent at ASCO 2016. Read more. (An interview with Prof van den Bent is available here.)

ASCO 2016: New WHO classification of brain tumours will “optimise patient treatment”

Four posters at ASCO 2016 considered the impact that the new WHO brain tumour classification (covered on the IBTA website here) will have on the diagnostic criteria of brain tumours and how they will provide the basis for clinical trial enrolment. Discussing these posters, Dr Howard Colman, Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah, USA, said that “to optimise patient treatment going forward,” the neuro-oncology field needs “to extract as much information as possible using the new classification from prior retrospective data sets.” Read more.

Treatment news

Play-based preparation reduces need for sedation in children with brain tumours undergoing radiotherapy

A study published in Supportive Care in Cancer has concluded that play-based preparation prior to radiotherapy for brain tumours is associated with less need for sedation and significantly reduced healthcare costs. The authors conclude that a play-based developmental specialist may be a crucial component of cost-effective healthcare in paediatric brain tumour care. Read more.

NHS to double the number of patients who receive stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotactic radiotherapy

The National Health Service (NHS) in England has announced new contracts for stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT) across multiple centres as part of the organisation’s Cancer Strategy, with over 6,200 patients a year set to benefit from the treatments by 2018/19. Stereotactic procedures are designed to destroy tumour tissue more efficiently than conventional radiotherapy by delivering narrow radiation beams to tumours from multiple angles; SRS delivers radiation in a single dose, SRT in several smaller doses. Read more.

Research news

Trial shows that microbubble and implanted ultrasound device combination disrupts blood-brain barrier in glioblastoma patients

Interim results of an ongoing phase 1/2a clinical trial, published in Science Translational Medicine, have shown that a pulsed ultrasound device, implanted into the skull, successfully disrupted the blood-brain barrier long enough for chemotherapy to reach the brain. At regular intervals, a microbubble injection was given to the 15 glioblastoma patients undergoing monthly chemotherapy and the device was activated. No ill effects were observed and MRI scans showed opening of the blood brain barrier. The trial continues. Read more.

Eight genes may predict outcome in glioblastoma, finds study

Research published in Neurology has identified eight genes which are involved in the immune system that have a high association with outcome in glioblastoma: three genes were linked with increased protection (FOX03, ZBTB16, AIMP1) and five were associated with a poor outcome (IL6, IL10, CCL18, AIMP1, FCGR2B, MMP9). The researchers from China analysed the genes from 297 cases of glioma taken from the Chinese Glioma Genome Atlas (CGGA) database, concluding that testing for these genes “could independently identify patients with a high risk of reduced survival”. Read more.

Existing drug derived from Indian plant may have role in glioblastoma treatment, research study reports

A research study published in the Journal of Cellular Physiology has proposed that the drug flavopiridol has the potential to be a glioblastoma treatment when given in combination with other therapies by preventing tumour cells from processing sugar. The drug, derived from an alkaloid from the stems of a plant indigenous to India, has been investigated in a variety of cancers and medical conditions for over twenty years, but with mostly disappointing results to date. Read more.

Study points toward high vitamin E levels as risk factor for glioblastoma

Analysis of blood samples from 110 people who went on to develop glioblastoma has found high levels of vitamin E (α-tocopherol and γ-tocopherol), when compared to an equal number of samples from people who did not. Published in Oncotarget, the authors note that blood vitamin E levels do not necessarily relate to dietary intake. A variety of other antioxidant substances were also associated with increased glioblastoma risk (including erythritol, erythronic acid, myo-inositol, cystine, 2-keto-L-gluconic acid, hypoxanthine and xanthine). The researchers conclude that this exploratory study warrants further investigation. Read more.

Now recruiting: new clinical trial of immunotherapy for childhood DIPG tumours

A pilot trial in Spain of dendritic cell (DC) vaccination is now recruiting children with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). The treatment involves extracting and ‘training’ patients’ dendritic cells (a type of immune cell) to attack the tumour, before reinjecting them. The trial of 10 patients to establish the safety and feasibility of the treatment is being organised by a research group at Hospital Sant Joan de Deu (Barcelona, Spain) in collaboration with the Immunology Unit at Hospital Clinic (Barcelona, Spain). For more information, please email Andres Morales, MD at

International trial for child and young adult ependymoma launches in the UK

A five-year trial that seeks to recruit 150 young people (up to age 22) with ependymoma is being launched in the UK. Patients will be grouped according to the treatment they receive with the aim of identifying optimal treatment, the results of which will be fed into a larger international trial involving 16 European countries. Read more.

University education and better pay linked to brain tumour diagnosis, study finds

Research published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health has found an association between brain tumour diagnosis and university education, higher disposable income, and a professional or managerial job. Widely reported in the media and attracting controversy, the study monitored 4.3 million Swedes born between 1911 and 1961 for a 17-year period (1993 to 2010). The authors conclude that “completeness of cancer registration and detection bias are potential explanations for the findings”. Read more.

Study tracks evolution of glioblastoma tumours

In a research paper published in Nature Genetics, analysis of the genetic evolution of glioblastoma tumours in 114 patients has clarified how cancer cells within a tumour adapt to treatment. The research observed how small numbers of cells with resistance to specific therapies multiply and predominate over time, ultimately resulting in recurrence. According to the authors, these data may help better predict patient outcomes and develop tumour-specific treatments. Read more.

Research points to link between dopamine and glioblastoma

A study examining the effects of 580 neurochemicals on glioblastoma stem cells (the cells believed to drive tumour growth) has found that substances that trigger a specific dopamine receptor, DRD4, drive tumour growth. Published in Cancer Cell, other substances that activated different neurochemical signalling pathways (serotoninergic and cholinergic) were also found to promote growth, while drugs that blocked the DRD4 receptor inhibited tumour growth, suggesting DRD4 as a potential target for future therapies. Read more.

Phase 1 trial shows longer survival with Toca 511 and Toca FC in recurrent glioblastoma

Published in Science Translational Medicine, results from a phase 1 trial of Toca 511 and Toca FC, a modified virus that carries a gene into tumour cells combined with a drug that targets the modified tumour cells, has shown increased survival in patients with recurrent glioblastoma who received the treatment (7.1 vs 3.6 months). The trial indicated that treatment was safe and well tolerated by patients. A phase 2/3 trial of the therapy is currently recruiting. Read more.

Preliminary results: study says that pembrolizumab immunotherapy is safe when given alongside bevacizumab (Avastin) and radiotherapy in recurrent glioblastoma or anaplastic astrocytoma

Presented at ASCO 2016, preliminary data from an ongoing phase 1 clinical trial, which has six patients currently enrolled, has found that the anti-PD1 immunotherapy pembrolizumab (Keytruda) is safe when given alongside bevacizumab and hypofractionated stereotactic radiation therapy (HFSRT). Two of the patients receiving the combined therapy maintained stable disease and one patient showed a ‘complete response’. Read more.

Checkpoint inhibitors nivolumab and ipilimumab safe in ongoing recurrent glioblastoma trial, study reports

Results from the CheckMate-143 trial, presented at ASCO 2016, have shown that nivolumab (Opdivo) is safe when given alone or in combination with ipilimumab (Yervoy) in recurrent glioblastoma. Adverse effects were highest in the group who received both of the checkpoint inhibitors, and progression-free survival was also greatest with combined treatment (9.3 vs 1.9 months). Read more. In an interview with Targeted Oncology, Dr David Reardon, physician and clinical director of the Center for Neuro-oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, USA, discusses these findings and those of the above pembrolizumab (Keytruda) study here.

Company news

Triphase Accelerator announces “clinical benefit” from phase 1 trial of marizomib and bevacizumab in glioblastoma

Results from a phase 1 trial of marizomib (MRZ) in combination with bevacizumab (Avastin) were presented at ASCO 2016, showing that the therapy was well tolerated and, of the 36 patients in the study, 25 patients achieved clinical benefit. Triphase Accelerator has announced plans to progress to a phase 2 trial. Read more (company press release).

Positive results of phase 1 trial of AbbVie’s ABT-414 prompt plans for phase 2 trial

At ASCO 2016, AbbVie announced results from a phase 1 recurrent glioblastoma trial of ABT-414, an antibody combined with a drug that targets epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) on tumour cells: 30% of patients were progression-free after six months of therapy. According to the study there were no toxicities that prevented treatment, but there were frequent reversible side-effects affecting the eyes reported. AbbVie has  announced plans for a phase 2 trial of ABT-414 in EGFR-amplified glioblastoma. Read more (company press release). 

Phase 2 study of VBL Therapeutics’ VB-111 shows increased survival in recurrent glioblastoma

VBL Therapeutics announced at ASCO 2016 that a recurrent glioblastoma phase 2 trial of VB-111, a gene therapy that targets brain tumour blood vessels, has shown statistically significant increases in survival in the cohort of 46 patients, compared to previously published outcomes for treatment with bevacizumab (Avastin) (59 weeks vs. 32 weeks). Read more (company press release).

First patient treated with ImmunoCellular Therapeutics’ ICT-107 in newly diagnosed glioblastoma phase 3 trial

ImmunoCellular Therapeutics has announced that the first newly diagnosed glioblastoma patient has been treated with ICT-107 in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 clinical trial. ICT-107 is an autologous (patient-derived) dendritic cell (DC) immunotherapy, whereby a patient’s white blood cells are extracted and ‘trained’ to identify glioblastoma cells before being reinjected. 414 patients who have HLA-A2 markers on their cells are to be enrolled on the trial, which is to be conducted at approximately 120 sites in the US, Canada and the EU. Read more (company press release).

And in other news...

Video: the potential for immunotherapy to treat brain metastases

In an online video, Dr Manmeet Ahluwalia, director of the Brain Metastases Research Program at the Cleveland Clinic, USA, discusses the latest immunotherapy research in relation to brain metastases. Brain metastases are often treated with surgery and radiotherapy and have limited chemotherapy options. Watch online here.

UK e-Petition calls for increased research into DIPG brain tumours

A UK e-petition has been launched that is calling for more brain tumour research into diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a tumour which typically affects children aged 5 – 10 years old and has an average survival of 9 months.  British citizens and UK residents can sign the petition and nearly 10,000 have already done so. At more than 10,000 signatures, the UK government will respond to the petition and at 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament. Read more here.

Conferences: call for abstracts

European Cancer Conference (ECCO) 2017
27-30 January 2017
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Abstract submission deadline: 25 August, 2016 – Click here

Upcoming events

13th Annual Meeting of the Asian Society for Neuro-Oncology
11-15 September 2016
Sydney, NSW, Australia

9th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Co-operative Trials Group for Neuro-Oncology (COGNO)
11-15 September 2016
Sydney, NSW, Australia

Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) 2016 Annual Meeting
24-28 September 2016
San Diego, California, USA

58th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) 2016
25-28 September 2016
Boston, Massachusetts, USA

European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2016 Congress
7-11 October 2016
Copenhagen, Denmark
The ESMO Patient Advocacy Track will be taking place concurrently from 7 to 10 October. Find out more here.
 12th Congress of EANO
12-16 October 2016
Mannheim/Heidelberg, Germany
Keep up to date with future scientific conferences and events on the IBTA website conferences page here. If you are aware of a brain tumour-relevant conference, including any patient conferences, that we have not yet listed on the IBTA website then please let us know.

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IBTA Website


Who we are

The International Brain Tumour Alliance was established in 2005. It is a network of support, advocacy and information groups representing brain tumour patients and carers in different countries and also includes researchers, scientists, clinicians and allied health professionals who work in the field of brain tumours.
For more information, please visit  


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Copyright © 2016 The International Brain Tumour Alliance, All rights reserved.


The International Brain Tumour Alliance (IBTA) makes every effort to be accurate regarding the information contained in this e-News (or in any documents, reports, notes or other material produced for and on behalf of the IBTA to which we provide a link in this e-News).  However, the IBTA accepts no liability for any inaccuracies or omissions herein nor can it accept liability for any loss or damage resulting from any inaccuracy in this information or third party information such as information on websites to which we link. The information contained in this e-News is for educational purposes only and should in no way be taken as a substitute for medical care nor is the information on the IBTA website meant to constitute medical advice or professional services. For medical care and advice, please contact your doctor. Inclusion of clinical trial news does not imply the IBTA’s particular endorsement or not of any trial.

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The views and opinions in the materials included in this e-News may not necessarily be those of the International Brain Tumour Alliance.

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