Chemosensitivity For Oligodendrogliomas
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Chemotherapy Sensitivity in Oligodendrogliomas

Dr. Greg Cairncross (London Regional Cancer Centre, London Ontario) and his lab team are studying the factors that predict response to treatment and resistance to treatment in a group of brain tumors called anaplastic oligodendrogliomas.

Many years ago Dr. Cairncross and his partner, David Macdonald, observed that anaplastic oligodendrogliomas were unusually sensitive to chemotherapy. Through research, supported in part by the Brain Tumor Foundation of Canada, they have now observed that anaplastic oligodendrogliomas that lack a portion of chromosome 1 are far more often sensitive to drug therapy. On the other hand, anaplastic oligodendrogliomas lacking this genetic change are more often, but not always, resistant to the same drug therapy. This test therefore provides information to help some patients with anaplastic oligodendrogliomas make treatment choices. The studies also have the potential to enhance our understanding of anaplastic oligodendroglioma chemosensitivity, and are therefore a major step toward rational and effective drug treatment for brain tumors

The genetic test is currently performed at the Massachusetts General Hospital as well as selected other tertiary care centers, and takes about four weeks. The requirements are as follows: Confirmed diagnosis of anaplastic oligodendroglioma. Seven to ten unstained sections of representative tumour, plus one tube of blood (see specific instructions from Dr. Louis). Cost is approximately $440, and may or may not be covered by medical insurance in the US. It is covered by Provincial Health Insurance in Ontario.

Interested neuro-oncologists can contact Dr. David Louis, at MGH, 617-726-5510 or 617-726-5156.


Cairncross JG, Ueki K, Zlatescu MC, Lisle DK, Finkelstein DM, Hammond RR, Silver JS, Stark PC, Macdonald DR, Ino Y, Ramsay DA, Louis DN. Specific Genetic Predictors of Chemotherapeutic Response and Survival in Patients with Anaplastic Oligodendrogliomas.J Natl Cancer Inst 1998 Oct 7;90(19):1473-9.

Cairncross JG, Oligodendrogliomas: At the Intersection of Treatment and Research. Michael Bell Memorial Lecture, Brain Tumor Foundation of Canada Information Day, London, Ontario, October 30, 1999 (Unpublished)

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