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IBTA e-News

The monthly bulletin for our
international brain tumour community

April 2016

Headline news

Brain tumour experts appointed to ‘Moonshot Initiative’ advisory panel 

The National Cancer Institute (USA), part of the National Institutes of Health, has appointed a ‘Blue Ribbon’ Panel of scientific experts, cancer leaders, and patient advocates, who will inform the scientific direction and goals of the US Government’s National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, which aims to accelerate cancer research. Of the 28 panel members, a number are leading figures involved in brain tumour research and care, including David Arons, Chief Executive Officer of the non-profit National Brain Tumor Society (read his statement on the appointment here). Read more (Official news release).

EMA publishes new guidance on Patient-Reported Outcomes

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has published new guidance on the use of patient-reported outcome (PRO) measures in oncology studies. The guidance describes the use of PROs and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) measures in clinical studies, acknowledging the importance of bringing the patient's perspective of their disease and treatments to the assessment of cancer medicines. Read more.

Community news

The start of May marks national Brain Tumor Awareness Month in the USA and Brain Cancer Action Week in Australia

May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month in the United States, when the brain tumour community comes together to raise public awareness of brain tumours, fundraise for research and care, and run educational activities and events. On May 2-3, the National Brain Tumor Society will be holding their annual 'Head to the Hill' advocacy event at Capitol Hill, Washington DC, which will be attended by hundreds of brain tumour advocates from across the country (read more here). The American Brain Tumor Association is also holding a variety of walks and fundraising events across the country (read more here). The social media hashtag for the month is #BTAM and many other organisations will be running activities for the brain tumour community to celebrate and share their experiences with the wider world. Search online for events or activities in your area. Visit the Alliance page or advocacy group information page on the IBTA website to find more organisations that operate in the USA.

Sunday 1st to Saturday 7th May will be Brain Cancer Action Week in Australia, which will see events and activities taking place across the country. Organisations that are supporting the week and/or running activities include Cancer Council Australia, Sydney Neuro-Oncology Group, Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, Yellow Diamond Foundation, and Brain Tumour Alliance Australia. Search online to find events in your area.

UK government acknowledges that more must be done for brain tumours

Following a successful e-Petition calling for a UK Parliamentary debate on brain tumour research funding, Health Minister George Freeman MP announced on 18th April a package of measures to improve brain tumour research, diagnosis and treatment. These include: seeking to improve levels of earlier diagnosis and including brain cancer in the Genomics England programme; establishing a Department of Health ‘Task and Finish’ working group to look at areas highlighted by the Petitions Committee report, and requesting the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to produce a national register within a year to examine how public funds are spent on research. Read more. Also available are a full transcript and a video of the Parliamentary debate.

Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation launches new family learning resource

The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation (USA) has developed a free online learning resource for families that includes more than two dozen videos designed to help families better advocate for their child during treatment and beyond. Videos are presented by a variety of leading brain tumour experts and cover a wide range of topics that include clinical trials, the importance of second opinions and tumour genetics. Access the resource here.

Official report now available for Children with Cancer UK’s workshop on pediatric brain tumour drug delivery

The conference report of Children with Cancer UK’s workshop on drug delivery in pediatric brain tumours, held on 1st and 2nd February 2016 at the Royal College of Physicians, London, has been published in the journal ecancer. With 27 speakers, and attended by over 90 participants from around the world, the workshop highlighted the urgent need for prioritisation of drug delivery research and clinical trials to improve outcomes for children with brain tumours. Read the full report here.

Research news

Quality of life (QoL) assessments may aid research and improve the relationship between patients and healthcare professionals

The not-for-profit research institute RAND Europe has systematically analysed published research on the use of quality of life (QoL) assessment tools in clinical care settings for cancer patients, with a particular focus on brain tumour patients. Published in Quality of Life Research, the project also involved interviews with 15 experts and consultations with participants at the IBTA Second World Summit of Brain Tumour Patient Advocates, held on 25-27 October 2016, in Sitges, Spain. The report, which acknowledged the IBTA’s important contribution to the research results found that QoL assessments may aid research and improve the relationship between brain tumour patients and healthcare professionals, while the report highlighted the need for "further research and stakeholder involvement on how QoL tools can achieve most impact across cancer and patient contexts". Read more (open-access paper).

Combined radiotherapy and chemotherapy improves survival in grade 2 glioma, study finds

Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a randomised trial of 251 grade 2 glioma patients aged younger than 40 years who had undergone subtotal tumor resection or who were 40 years of age or older, has found an improved overall survival in those who received radiation therapy plus chemotherapy (procarbazine, lomustine, and vincristine), compared to radiation therapy alone (13.3 vs. 7.8 years). Read more. (Video of key research points available here.)

Blood pressure drug prazosin found to inhibit glioblastoma growth, study reveals

An international collaboration has found that the anti-hypertensive drug prazosin reduces glioblastoma growth in both cell-based and mice-based experiments. Published in EMBO Molecular Medicine, researchers tested twelve hundred existing drug compounds for possible glioblastoma treatments and found prazosin to be effective, acting through the AKT cellular pathway. Clinical trials are to be initiated this year. Read more.

Combined anti-angiogenesis treatment may extend glioblastoma survival, two papers find

According to two papers published in Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences, treatments that target two angiogenesis (blood vessel growth) pathways may offer improved glioblastoma survival when compared to single therapies that target just one pathway, such as the anti-VEGF drug bevacizumab (Avastin). Experiments on mice showed that dual therapy with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2) inhibitors normalised blood vessels around brain tumours and extended survival, compared to anti-VEGF treatment alone. Read more. (Abstract of two papers available here and here.)

Medulloblastoma subtype has leaky blood-brain barrier, study finds

Research published in the journal Cell has found that WNT medulloblastomas, a tumour subtype that occurs in childhood, develop a ‘leaky’ blood-brain barrier that allows chemotherapy drugs to readily pass through. WNT medulloblastomas secrete substances that prevent normal blood-brain barrier formation and are potentially curable. The authors suggest that these findings may offer an approach to make other medulloblastoma subtypes more sensitive to chemotherapy. Read more.

Patient data suggests aspirin use and chickenpox infection may lower risk of glioma

Analysis of patient data from Glioma International Case-Control Study has found that previous chickenpox infection is linked to a 21% reduced risk for glioma. The research, published in Cancer Medicine, compared the medical history of 4,533 glioma patients with 4171 controls from across five countries. The ‘protective effect’ of chickenpox was strongest in higher grade gliomas. Read more. In a separate analysis of the Glioma International Case-Control Study data, presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting in New Orleans, USA, April 16-20, intake of aspirin for over six months is associated with a 33% lower risk of glioma, compared to those who have never taken it. The analysis also showed that other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications were linked to lower glioma risk in women. Read more (conference abstract available here).

‘Next generation sequencing’ techniques may help identify patients most likely to benefit from immunotherapy

Published in Cancer Immunology Research, a study has shown that ‘next generation sequencing’ techniques can be used to monitor the immune cell response of individual glioblastoma patients who receive dendritic cell (DC) immunotherapy. The study found a better outcome in patients with initially elevated levels of T cells inside the glioblastoma tumour, compared to those without T-cell infiltration into their tumours. Read more.

Longer progression-free survival with bevacizumab (Avastin) plus irinotecan in GLARIUS Trial

Glioblastoma tumours with a non-methylated MGMT promoter typically respond poorly to standard temozolomide therapy. Results from the randomised GLARIUS trial published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology have shown that patients with newly diagnosed MGMT-non-methylated glioblastoma tumours have improved progression-free survival (PFS) when treated with bevacizumab and irinotecan, compared to temozolomide alone. The dual therapy did not alter quality of life, compared to temozolomide, and there was no increase in overall survival (OS), which the authors suggest is "potentially because of the high crossover rate". Read more. An accompanying article, “Antiangiogenic Therapy for Glioblastoma: Complex Biology and Complicated Results”, published in the same journal assesses the results of this and other published antiangiogenic treatment glioblastoma trials. Read more.

Study finds that checkpoint inhibitor nivolumab has effect in childhood glioblastoma syndrome

In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, two children with recurrent glioblastomas due to the rare genetic disorder biallelic mismatch repair deficiency (bMMRD) had “clinically significant responses and a profound radiologic response” following treatment with nivolumab, an anti-PD-1 antibody drug. A total of 37 bMMRD cancers were analysed in the study and all were found to be ‘hypermutant’, having a high rate of DNA mutations. Evidence suggests checkpoint inhibitors will be most effective in tumours with high mutation rates. Read more (Practice Update website, registration required).

Study shows bevacizumab (Avastin) may help restore hearing in neurofibromatosis type 2

In a trial of 14 patients with neurofibromatosis type 2 and progressive hearing loss due to vestibular schwannoma tumours, five patients experienced sustained improvement in hearing following a 48-week course of bevacizumab. The authors of the paper published in Journal of Clinical Oncology suggest further larger validation studies. Read more.

Microvesicles from stem cells could help prevent radiotherapy-induced cognitive decline, study concludes

In experiments on rats, researchers have found that implanting microvesicles from stem cells reverses the cognitive impairments that arise from radiation therapy. The microvesicles were tiny fluid-filled sacs released by stems cells which, when transplanted into the brain two days after radiation therapy, resulted in reduced inflammation and protection against radiation-induced cognitive dysfunction. Similar results have previously been achieved with stem cell transplant, although this approach published in Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences does not require the stem cells themselves to be implanted. Read more.

Two new technologies to improve brain tumour surgery accuracy

Two research teams have independently developed technologies to improve the accuracy of brain tumour resection during surgery. An ‘intelligent scalpel’ with a spherical tip less than a millimetre in diameter that can identify tumour tissue in ‘less than half a second’ has been developed by David Oliva Uribe of Vrije Universiteit in Brussels, Belgium. Read more. Meanwhile, researchers from The Netherlands have published in Biomedical Optics Express a technique for rapidly identifying brain tumour tissue with ‘third harmonic generation’ (THG) microscopes, which lets the user see the tissue’s microscopic appearance in under a minute. Read more.

Company news

DelMar Pharmaceutical’s VAL-083 to progress to phase III trials for glioblastoma

At the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting in New Orleans, USA, April 16-20, DelMar Pharmaceuticals presented results from an ongoing phase I/II clinical trial of VAL-083 (dianhydrogalactitol) in refractory glioblastoma, confirming that the treatment is well-tolerated and is due to progress to phase III trials. VAL-083 is an alkylating chemotherapy drug that is hoped to offer clinically meaningful survival benefit in glioblastoma patients with tumours that are resistant to current treatments. Read more (company press release).

Novocure announces phase 2 trial of Optune combined with bevacizumab in bevacizumab-refractory recurrent glioblastoma

Novocure and the non-profit organisation RTOG Foundation have announced they will conduct a phase 2 trial to test the Tumor Treating Fields device Optune (previously NovoTTF-100A) combined with bevacizumab (Avastin) in recurrent glioblastoma patients who have previously received bevacizumab treatment. In the US, both Optune and bevacizumab are presently approved as monotherapies but not given together. Read more (company press release). Clinical trial information available here (

Animal studies show Toca 511 & 5-FC work in combination with checkpoint inhibitors

Tocagen has presented findings at the AACR annual meeting that show Toca 511 & Toca FC – a gene therapy platform that uses retroviral replicating vectors – appears to work in combination with checkpoint inhibitors (anti-PD-1 or anti-CTLA-4 antibodies) to reduce glioblastoma tumour size in mice, suggesting a potential dual therapy in the clinical setting. Read more (company press release).

Conferences and events news

BNOS Young Investigator Award: extended deadline for applications

The British Neuro-Oncology Society (BNOS) Council is inviting nominations for a young researcher who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of neuro-oncology in the UK to attend and speak at the BNOS 2016 meeting, and to be given an award of £2,000 to attend one (or more) other neuro-oncology conferences. The deadline for applications has been extended to 6 May, 2016. More details available here.

Abstract submission deadlines

British Neuro-Oncology Society (BNOS) Conference 2016
29 June – 1 July 2016
Leeds, United Kingdom
Abstract submission deadline: 3 May, 2016Click here

European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2016 Congress
7-11 October 2016
Copenhagen, Denmark
 Abstract submission deadline: 11 May, 2016 (Late-breaking abstracts 23 August, 2016) – Click here
European Cancer Conference (ECCO) 2017
27-30 January 2017
Madrid, Spain
Abstract submission deadline: 25 August, 2016Click here


Upcoming events

Keep up to date with future scientific conferences and events on the IBTA website conferences page here.


84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS)
30 April-4 May 2016
Chicago, Illinois, USA


2016 ASCO Annual Meeting
3-7 June 2016
Chicago, Illinois, USA

17th International Symposium on Pediatric Neuro-Oncology (ISPNO 2016)
12-15 June 2016
Liverpool, United Kingdom

1st International Meeting on Meningioma
17-18 June 2016
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

18th Annual Meeting of the Brain Tumor Epidemiology Consortium (BTEC 2016): Immunefactors and viral interactions in brain cancer etiology and outcomes
21-23 June 2016
Barcelona, Spain

British Neuro-Oncology Society (BNOS) Conference 2016
29 June – 1 July 2016
Leeds, United Kingdom

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
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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We will do our best to relay as much information as possible to our subscribers via this monthly newsletter and our website. The selection of e-News entries is at the sole discretion of the editors.
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.

Other websites linked from the IBTA e-News are not under the control of the IBTA. Therefore we take no responsibility for their content. The IBTA has provided these links as a convenience to you and can in no way verify the information, quality, safety or suitability of linked websites.

Any company sponsorship of the IBTA's projects does not imply the IBTA's endorsement of any particular form or forms of therapy, treatment regimen or behaviour. (For further details of our sponsors, please see our Sponsorship Policy).

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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