SNO is an annual conference where those at the forefront of research to defeat brain tumours come together to share their work, discuss the progress that has been made and consider strategies for future development
We attended the conference to highlight our research grants to researchers from across the globe and to find out about the latest work that is being done both to accelerate towards a cure and to improve quality of life.
A major focus at the conference was the challenges associated with recruiting patients to clinical trials, which is a complex problem and dominated a lot of discussions. David Jenkinson, our Chief Scientific Officer (pictured right with our CEO Sarah), was part of a panel discussing ways to improve patient participation in clinical trials.
He commented that patients should have the option to take part, but also recognised that this isn’t the route that everyone wants to take. He emphasised that patients should be provided with quality information that enables them to make informed decisions.
We hope that the launch of the Tessa Jowell BRAIN-MATRIX, an adaptive platform trial that we are funding will help to ensure that more patients than ever in the UK will have the option to access novel, experimental treatments as and when they become available.
There was also a session on paediatric brain tumours with a session focusing on diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). Dr Michelle Monje-Deisseroth, neuro-oncologist at Stanford University, spoke about the importance of understanding the tumour microenvironment – the environment in which the tumour exists – and how tumour cells interact with the normal brain.
Researchers have shown the microenvironment can have a profound impact on how the tumour behaves, including response to treatment and whether the tumour spreads to another of the brain or other organ.
High-grade gliomas such as DIPG intimately interact with normal brain tissue. Dr Monje-Deisserothhas has discovered that a molecule called neuroligin-3 is released from normal nerve cells in the brain and causes DIPG cells to grow.
“Tissue donation has allowed us to learn so much more about the biology of this disease, and is providing hope,” she said.
Initial studies have shown that blocking this molecule stops tumour growth, and are now looking for ways to progress this potential treatment strategy towards the clinic. Watch this space!
There was also much discussion at SNO around GBM AGILE (Glioblastoma Adaptive Global Innovative Learning Environment), which is a global adaptive platform trial that will test multiple therapies for patients with newly diagnosed and recurrent glioblastoma (GBM) – the most aggressive form of brain cancer.
Pharmaceutical company, Bayer, recently announced that their drug, regorafenib, will be the first drug to enter GBM AGILE in early 2019.
The therapy is already approved for the treatment of colorectal and gastrointestinal tumours, and early studies suggest it may also be effective for patients with recurrent GBM.
The 2019 conference highlighted that there are lots of innovative and new approaches being trialled to defeat brain tumours.
We will continue to fund the best research across the world to ensure we accelerate towards a cure.