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IBTA e-News

The monthly bulletin for our
international brain tumour community

January 2017

General news

Considering the impact of WHO's brain tumour reclassification

In an interview with Targeted Oncology, Dr Arie Perry, Director of Neuropathology at UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco, California (US), discusses the impact of the World Health Organisation’s recent reclassification of brain tumours on clinical care. He explains what oncologists should be aware of with this change in classification and how developments may affect future care. Read more.

HeadSmart campaign for early diagnosis of paediatric brain tumours relaunched in the UK

The UK-based ‘HeadSmart’ campaign, which aims to cut the average diagnosis times of paediatric brain tumours in the UK to four weeks or less, has been officially relaunched. Through making the public and professionals more aware of the signs and symptoms of childhood brain tumours, and the publishing of clinical guidelines to assist healthcare professionals in the assessment of children who may have a brain tumour, the campaign saw the average diagnosis time for children with brain tumours fall from 13 weeks before its launch in 2011 to 9.1 weeks in 2013. Updated clinical guidelines that use new evidence form part of the relaunch. Read more.

Research news

Study finds that antiangiogenic therapy, such as bevacizumab, may be effective for a subtype of glioblastoma patients

A retrospective analysis of the perfusion MR images and medical records of 117 glioblastoma patients published in Neuro-Oncology has found an association between the degree of blood flow (vascularisation) within a brain tumour and clinical progress following antiangiogenic (e.g. bevacizumab) treatment. Those patients classified as having highly vascularized tumours (51) survived an average of over one  year longer than their counterparts who did not receive antiangiogenic therapy. Read more.

Researchers develop virus that targets gene crucial for glioblastoma growth

Published in Molecular Therapy, researchers have shown that the miR-10b gene in glioblastoma cells is essential for their survival. The gene is highly active in glioblastoma cells but not in other brain cells and the research team used a CRISPR gene editing technique (an extremely accurate method for making precise changes to DNA) to develop a virus that specifically targeted this gene. The viral vector was then injected directly into glioblastoma tumours in mice, resulting in the destruction of tumour cells, while sparing normal cells. Read more.

International effort classifies rare childhood atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumours into three subgroups

A large international study has used genetic and molecular analyses to classify atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumours (ATRTs), a rare and aggressive type of childhood brain tumour, into three subgroups, each of which may have specific sensitivities to different drugs and therapies. Read more  (for a video of author Dr. Daniel De Carvalho describing the research click here).

Study points to checkpoint inhibitor and gene therapy combined treatment for glioblastoma

In experiments in mice with glioblastoma, research published in Molecular Therapy has found reduced tumour growth from treatment with a combination of TK/Flt3L gene therapy (genetically engineered adenoviruses that target two genetic regions in tumours) and either anti-PD-L1 or anti-CTLA-4 checkpoint inhibitors (agents that allow the immune system to better recognise tumour cells). The combination reduced tumour growth more than either therapy independently, suggesting dual therapy as a possible effective therapy option, the study states. Read more.

Case study on Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cell Therapy

A single-patient case study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, has documented the progress of a recurrent multifocal glioblastoma patient during therapy with chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)–engineered T cells, a powerful form of immunotherapy that has shown promise in blood cancers. CAR T cells were injected into the brain, leading to regression of all tumours in the brain and spine, and a clinical response that lasted 7.5 months. The case attracted widespread attention in the media and in academic outlets. Read more.

Researchers engineer salmonella bacteria to target and destroy glioblastoma cells

A non-disease-causing strain of salmonella bacteria has been genetically engineered to deliver two antitumour molecules into glioblastoma cells, resulting in tumour death, according to research published in Molecular Therapy – Oncolytics. In the open-access paper, 19% of mice whose glioblastoma tumours were injected with the bacteria survived for more than 100 days. Read more.

Clinical trial shows that onartuzumab offers no benefit when combined with bevacizumab

Results from a phase II clinical trial of bevacizumab in combination with onartuzumab (an antibody that targets the c-Met enzyme on the surface of cancer cells) has shown that onartuzumab offers no additional benefit. 129 patients were randomised to receive either bevacizumab and onartuzumab or bevacizumab and a placebo. The median overall survival (OS) was 8.8 months (onartuzumab/bevacizumab) versus 12.6 months (bevacizumab/placebo). Read more.

Blocking DNA-repair protein in glioblastoma increases the effect of radiotherapy, study shows

A study published in Stem Cell Reports has found that a drug that blocks a specific protein (RAD51) which allows glioblastoma cells to repair their DNA increases the effectiveness of radiation therapy. RAD51 is more highly present in glioblastoma stem cells. In experiments on mice the agent reduced tumour growth. Read more.

Phase III trials of glioblastoma treatments on a downward trajectory, analysis shows

Published in Radiation Oncology, an analysis of registered clinical trials for glioblastoma treatments between 2005 and 2015 has described the trends in their number, type and sources of funding. The research finds that most trials are for systemic (whole-body) treatments (91.2%); that phase II trials are increasing in number while phase III trials are declining, and that few phase II trials reach phase III. Read more (full article).

Study suggests direct-to-brain chemotherapy is better than whole-body when given alongside immunotherapy

In experiments on mice with glioblastoma tumours being treated with anti-PD1 immunotherapy, research published in Science Translational Medicine has shown that survival was better when chemotherapy (carmustine) was delivered directly to the tumour site (by implanted wafer), when compared to chemotherapy injected into the body.  Whole-body chemotherapy lowered the number of white blood cells more than localised treatment did, suggesting that the former hinders the efficacy of immunotherapy. Read more.

Two viewpoints: the role of whole-brain radiotherapy in brain metastases

Two contrasting viewpoints responding to the question ‘Is there a role for whole-brain radiation therapy in the treatment of brain metastases?’ have been published in JAMA Oncology, with answers that are summarised as ‘Limited’ and ‘Yes’. Read more here and here (subscription required).

Experiments suggest anti-malaria drug could enhance effect of other drugs in brain tumour treatment

In a study published in eLife, researchers have found that the antimalarial drug chloroquine may increase the sensitivity of brain tumours with a BRAFV600E genetic mutation to vemurafenib, a BRAF inhibitor. Using a combination of methods, including case studies, the research found that brain tumours with this mutation become able to resist vemurafenib due to a process called autophagy – where tumour cells recycle their internal components to sustain themselves  – but that chloroquine blocks this. One 26-year-old female patient is reported to have received this treatment and had a good response, and her case has been reported in the media. Read more.

Genetic profiling of paediatric brain tumours may allow precision medicine, according to study

Published in Neuro-Oncology, genetic profiling of over 200 paediatric brain tumour samples has uncovered that over half (53%) were harbouring mutations, including BRAF, that give extra diagnostic and prognostic information, and could offer alternative treatment options. Widespread use of these techniques represents an effective precision medicine approach for the clinical evaluation of paediatric brain tumours, the study finds. Read more.

Research finds that glioblastoma classification can be improved with molecular markers

Using 452 tissue samples from the clinical trial RTOG 0525 (temozolomide treatments in newly diagnosed glioblastoma), a study published in JAMA Oncology has analysed each tumour for levels of 22 proteins, finding that the added molecular information they give can provide improved prognostic information, potentially leading to more informed treatment decision-making. Read more.

‘Living with a Brain Tumour Diagnosis’ study seeks participants

Anna Trejnowska, a PhD student from the Department of Psychology at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, UK, is conducting a research project entitled “Adjustment to a Brain Tumour Diagnosis”, examining individual experiences and coping of those diagnosed with a brain tumour. Volunteers with a primary brain tumour are asked to complete three online questionnaires (and an optional telephone/email interview). They must be over 18 and can be at any stage of the illness (before, during or after treatment). They must also be able to speak English (but not necessarily as a first language). To find out more, click here.

Brain tumour community news

Save the date: National Brain Tumor Society’s (US) ‘Head to the Hills’ event on 8-9 May 2017

The National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) has published the date for this year’s ‘Head to the Hills’ event on Capitol Hill, Washington DC, USA. Patients, caregivers, family, friends, researchers and medical providers are invited to attend the two-day event, which has become a powerful vehicle to make sure that the voice of the brain tumour community is heard by the US government. The event includes a day of policy and advocacy training followed by a day to use those skills at Congressional meetings on Capitol Hill. Details are available here (NBTS website).

Company news

Ahead of schedule, GLOBE study of VB-111 is now fully enrolled, VBL Therapeutics announces

VBL Therapeutics has announced that 256 recurrent glioblastoma patients have been enrolled in the phase III randomised trial of VB-111 (ofranergene obadenovec - a gene therapy that targets brain tumour blood vessels) five months ahead of schedule. VBL expects that the interim analysis will occur in mid-2017 and that the ‘top-line’ results from the full dataset will be available in early 2018. Read more (company press release).

Tocagen expands phase 2/3 trial of Toca 511 & FC to include patients in South Korea

An ongoing randomised study of Toca 511 & FC (an immunotherapy with a modified virus combined with an oral drug) in recurrent glioblastoma and anaplastic astrocytoma patients undergoing planned surgery has been expanded to include patients from South Korea. The study is comparing the therapy with current ‘standard of care’, and continues to recruit patients. Read more (company press release).

Agenus announces clinical trial collaboration to evaluate Merck’s pembrolizumab (Keytruda) combined with HSPPC-96 (Prophage)

Agenus has announced plans for a double-blind randomized Phase 2 trial in newly diagnosed glioblastoma patients of the Prophage (HSPPC-96) personalised ‘vaccine’ immunotherapy, combined with pembrolizumab, a checkpoint inhibitor targeting the PD-1 protein. The US National Cancer Institute (NCI) and Brain Tumor Trials Collaborative (BTTC) member sites will recruit patients and conduct the trial. Read more (company press release).

And in other news...

Six-year-old with brain tumour helps to raise over €2.5m for the Red Cross

Tijn Kolsteren, a six year old with a terminal brain tumour, took part in an annual fundraising event in The Netherlands, which sees radio DJs lock themselves away for several days without food or drink to raise money. Tijn challenged people to “paint your nails, make a donation [to charity] and then challenge three of your friends to do the same.” The appeal gained widespread exposure and raised over €2.5m (US $2.7m) for the Red Cross. Read more.

Upcoming conferences & events

The Royal Marsden Paediatric Neuro-Oncology Study Day
13 February 2017
London, UK

CNIO Frontiers Meeting: Primary and Secondary Brain Tumours
19-22 February 2017
Madrid, Spain

23rd Annual Blood-Brain-Barrier Consortium Meeting
2-4 March 2017
Stevenson, Washington, USA

9th Annual Conference of the Indian Society of Neuro-Oncology (ISNOCON 2017)
10-12 March 2017
Bengaluru, India

The International Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Meeting / Florida Brain Tumor Summit
16-18 March 2017
Orlando, Florida, USA

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.

IBTA Website
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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 © 2017 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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