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Al's Comment:

 This is the newsletter from our friends at the International Brain Tumor Association!

Posted on: 11/13/2012



If you are having difficulty in reading this version please consult the web version.

Low-grade gliomas (LGG): In an article in JAMA which is freely available here and is accompanied by a supportive editorial, Dr Asgeir S Jakola from Norway reports on a comparison of the results for LGG patients at two Norwegian hospitals where one group was given early tumour resection and the other group a biopsy and watchful waiting. The first group had better overall survival.

Repeat resections: In a study of 578 GBM patients Johns Hopkins University researchers in the USA found that those who had repeated resections had longer survival than those who had just a one-time operation but the authors caution there may have been intrinsic bias because of patient selection.

Brain metastases: A French study has indicated that the combination of lapatinib (Tykerb) and capecitabine (Xeloda) is active as first-line treatment of brain metastases from HER2-positive breast cancer.

SNO Podcast: In a new initiative the Society for Neuro Oncology will arrange a SNO Highlights video podcast on the final day of its annual conference, Sunday, November 18 at 7 a.m. (Eastern US time). The link to the podcast is here. Denis Strangman and Kathy Oliver, co-directors of the IBTA, will have a display table at the SNO meeting and invite attendees to introduce themselves. Those who have not yet received a copy of the IBTA's 140-page Brain Tumour magazine (2012 edition) can collect a free copy from the IBTA table.

Old drugs, new tricks: In a study that confirms the usefulness of revisiting previously licensed drugs, Mayo Clinic researchers have found that an oral rinse of the antidepressant doxepin significantly eased pain associated with oral mucositis in patients receiving radiation therapy for cancers of the head and neck. Meanwhile, a UK laboratory study of GBM cells has found that a drug used for many years in alcohol addiction treatment (disulfiram) and which crosses the blood brain barrier, might be relevant as a therapy for GBM. The UK research was funded by The Brain Tumour Charity.

Embryonal tumors: Researchers at St Jude's (USA) studied 220 survivors of pediatric embryonal tumors and, based on parent-reported outcomes, largely found positive social adjustment several years after diagnosis and treatment but less so for those with posterior fossa syndrome.

3D Neurosurgery: An electrical engineer who underwent four operations for a brain tumour nineteen years ago has invented a 3D endoscope which was used for the first time in Canada last month to remove a brain tumour. More than a dozen hospitals already use the device in the USA where it was approved by the FDA about 18 months ago. Meanwhile, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has given a USD $2m grant to researchers at the University of Maryland to continue with their development of a "Minimally Invasive Neurosurgical Intracranial Robot" which may assist in the removal of difficult-to-reach brain tumors.

Normal brain cells into stem cells: Scientists using mice have discovered that GBMs grow by turning normal brain cells into stem cells. They found that "gliomas can originate from differentiated cells in the central nervous system (CNS), including cortical neurons."

Fake brain stem glioma: A 39 year old American woman who faked a brain stem glioma and raised USD $16,812 from unsuspecting donors has been sentenced to three years in prison. Unfortunately, there have been several cases of this nature, perhaps prompted by awareness of a greater community understanding of the lethality of brain tumours.

Court action over delayed diagnosis: A 27 year old Irish man has been awarded an initial payment of Euros €2.5m (about USD $3.2m) over an alleged delay in diagnosing his germ cell brain tumour which left him severely disabled, and because of a decision by the doctors to proceed with surgery rather than chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Cell phones and brain tumours: There was publicity during October about an Italian Supreme Court decision that cell phones cause brain tumours. In a commentary on the decision the Atlantic magazine claimed "the decision was based on the case of a man who made work-related calls on his cell phone for six hours a day for twelve years" and who developed a neuroma.

Neurosurgery drill missing: A Tobagonian man who waited for a week in Port of Spain (Trinidad) General Hospital for surgery to remove his brain tumour died when no cranial drill was available. Apparently 60 patients had been waiting for brain surgery as there was no drill for three months. Rented drills kept breaking down and there were accusations of the hospital's drill not being properly cleaned.

DNX-2401: DNAtrix Inc, which has been developing a targeted adenovirus-based oncolytic virus product (DNX-2401) for high grade brain tumours, which is under trial at MD Anderson, has merged with VectorLogics Inc.

ICT-107 and ICT-121: ImmunoCellular reports that results from the trial of its ICT-107 dendritic cell vaccine for GBM patients will be available in late 2013 and preclinical data for its ICT-121 trial involving recurrent GBM will be reported at the forthcoming SNO meeting.

NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®): Following a query to the NCCN about the non translation of CNS guidelines, the NCCN provided this statement: "While several NCCN Guidelines® have been translated, at this time the NCCN Guidelines for Central Nervous System (CNS) Cancers have not been translated. NCCN hopes to have the NCCN Guidelines for CNS Cancers translated in the future. NCCN invites potential sponsors to assist in the translation of the NCCN Guidelines for CNS Cancers by reaching out to NCCN."

Pituitary tumors: Cancer.Net, which is produced by ASCO, has updated its on-line material for pituitary tumors which is available here.

Videos: There have been some interesting brain tumour-related television commercials and videos that we have been made aware of recently. This is a TV commercial from the Netherlands (courtesy of for the 2012 International Brain Tumour Awareness Week. These are two thirty-second community service advertisements from Australia (courtesy of Brain Tumour Alliance Australia) and are available here and here. This is a link to the French "Enfants sans cancer" run/walk in September organized by the group “Imagine for Margo (Children without Cancer)” which raised funds for paediatric brain tumour research.

International Brain Tumour Awareness Week: The Awareness Week this year was a great success with 160 brain tumour and cancer-related groups agreeing to be (non-financial) supporting organisations for 


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