Blog from the Society for Neuro-oncology conference

Monday 3 December 2018

We recently represented the charity at an international scientific conference called SNO in New Orleans

In our first of two updates, we will give you an insight into the latest research being conducted into brain tumours.

Becky Birch, our Research Engagement Manager (pictured), reports from the 3rd Central Nervous System Anticancer Drug Discovery and Development Conference, which was held 14-15 November.

We are pleased to have been able to support this important meeting through our 'Conference and Workshop' grant.

β€œIn the last decade we have seen great advances in our understanding of the biology of several brain tumour types, but unfortunately these advances have not been translated into effective new drugs – the last drug approved for high-grade gliomas in the UK was temozolomide in 2007.

This educational and research-orientated conference brings together experts in the field, including scientists, clinicians and regulatory decision-makers, to discuss ways to improve drug development for brain tumours and other central nervous system tumours.

Across the two days there were some fantastic talks covering a range of topics including clinical trial design, new targets for drug development and novel ways to overcome the blood-brain barrier (BBB).

Researchers also shared data that has provided new insight on how tumour cells communicate with each other and how they move to other parts of the brain, identifying new pathways that could be targeted to stop tumours spreading.

Changing Clinical Trials

Much of the discussion on the first day was around the need to change the way we do clinical trials for relatively rare diseases such as glioblastoma (GBM).

Howard Colman, who is a neurologist at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, discussed the benefits of adaptive platform trials over traditional randomised controlled trials for GBM.

He explained that a major advantage of platform trials is that they can test multiple treatments and tumour types in a single trial, making them more efficient.

Adaptive platform trials are not without their challenges; careful statistical analysis of the results is required to avoid false positives, also referred to as 'type 1 errors', but if designed properly, these trials offer the opportunity to develop drugs faster, cheaper and with fewer patients.

New drug to improve effectiveness of radiotherapy

During the conference we also heard more about a new drug developed by Astra Zeneca called AZD1390 that works by stopping tumour cells from repairing the DNA damage caused by radiotherapy, therefore making radiotherapy more effective.

The blood-brain barrier (BBB) remains one of the greatest challenges for the development of new treatments for brain tumours, but researchers have shown AZD1390 successfully crosses the BBB.

Pre-clinical studies using in vivo models of human GBM, showed that treatment with AZD1390 in combination with radiotherapy caused tumours to shrink, and significantly improved survival compared to radiotherapy alone. AZD1390 is now in early clinical development, which involves a phase I trial to assess how well the drug gets into the brain in healthy human volunteers.”

Pt2 of the SNO blogs will be uploaded tomorrow.

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