New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Fri Jun 06, 2014 9:28 pm

First Nation woman earns doctorate after battle with brain tumour

Sarah Pash is not a quitter, but a few years ago she came close to giving up.

Pash started her doctoral program nine years ago, specializing in First Nations education at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont.

But in her fifth year, unexplained chronic pain — and the medication she was taking for it — made her unable to concentrate on her studies. She had to drop her courses.

For someone who describes herself as "very independent," it was hard to let go.

"It was a real moment of surrender to what was going on in my life," she said. "I had no control over my illness or the way it was affecting me."

"I have a hard time asking for help…. But at that moment I realized I can't do this alone," Pash said, her voice cracking with emotion. "I can't get through any of this alone."

That was a turning point for Pash, who is from the Cree Nation of Chisasibi in northern Quebec.

"We don't realize how much support there is around us and how much love is around us, and I think all we have to do is allow ourselves to accept it and depend on it," she said.

"When we are able do that, we realize that we can get through anything, no matter what.”

And that's what she did.

About a year and a half ago, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour about the size of a golf ball. As scary as that was for her and for her family, Sarah Pash said it was also a relief to finally know what had been causing her unbearable pain.

In January of this year, Pash re-registered for her PhD program and dusted off her dissertation.

"I was able to get ready for my final exam and did my final draft of my dissertation, and got ready for graduation, and that was it," she said.

'She always shared her love with her family and friends and everyone, and that's what has carried her so far.'

Her father, Steven Pash, said perseverance has always been a big part of his daughter's personality, as is sharing her love of life with everyone around her.

He said the Cree community pulled together to support his daughter through her illness, with people of all faiths — both traditional Cree spirituality and Christian denominations — praying for her.

"She always shared her love with her family and friends and everyone, and that's what has carried her so far," he said.

Sarah Pash graduated with her Doctorate of Philosophy on May 31 in Thunder Bay. She currently lives with her husband and four children in Oujé-Bougoumou. ... -1.2663489

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Sat Jun 07, 2014 8:31 pm

Newton Aycliffe fun day raises £1,000 for Heighington brain tumour victim charity

A FUN day has raised more than £1,000 for a charity set up in memory of a young woman who died of a brain tumour.

Claire Gardiner, 30, from Heighington, near Darlington, died within hours of being diagnosed last January.

A charity, Madathlon, was set up in her honour and has already raised thousands of pounds for lifesaving hospital equipment.

Terry and Vikki Anderson, of CrossFit All Out in Newton Aycliffe, heard about the charity through Laura Lineton, one of Miss Gardiner’s best friends, who attends the gym.

Determined the help, they hosted an action packed fun day, complete with barbeque, bouncy castle, campervan rides, face painting and much more.

This alone raised £886 and CrossFit members brought this up to £1,100 by taking part in a gruelling 12-hour work out.

Mrs Anderson said: “We are very grateful to have shared such a special day with so many people for such a great local charity, in memory of Claire.”

The money will go towards the purchase of two ‘blood bikes’, which are used to transport organs, blood donations and samples to hospital. ... ?ref=var_0

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Sun Jun 08, 2014 8:34 pm

Recurrent headaches a symptom of brain tumour: experts

Addressing a press conference held to mark World Brain Tumour Day, Dr Ashish Gupta, a senior consultant in neurosurgery at Max Super Speciality Hospital (MSSH), SAS Nagar, and Dr Nitin Yogesh,a consultant in neurosurgery at the same hospital said that increased intracranial pressure (IICP) was an increased pressure on the brain that could be caused by excess fluid, brain swelling, or a mass which could, in turn, be a cause of brain tumour.

"Such headaches are an initial symptom of the tumour. Other symptoms like seizures, changes in vision or hearing, giddiness, nausea and vomiting, fit weakness of the arms and legs or cognitive decline are other associated symptoms, "said Dr Yogesh. Describing the characteristics of headaches common to those with brain tumours, Dr Gupta said that the pain could be dull ache, or throbbing.

"Over time, the headaches might become more frequent, increasing in severity, and could eventually be a constant occurrence that was not easily relieved. Changes in body position could make them worse, especially when lying down. They could also be worsened by coughing or sneezing," he said.

Primary brain tumours tend to stay in the brain. While they could occur in people of all ages, these were seen to be more frequent in children and older adults.

"Metastatic brain tumours are those that would begin as a cancer elsewhere in the body and spread to the brain. These were more common in adults than children," said Dr Yogesh. ... 27102.aspx

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Tue Jun 10, 2014 9:10 pm

Fighting paediatric brain cancer through research and advocacy

“On 27 January 2008, Isabella’s eyes crossed,” recalls Dr Robert De Rose, an HIV/AIDS researcher at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity at the University of Melbourne. Dr De Rose is also a co-founder of the Isabella and Marcus Paediatric Brainstem Tumour Fund – a non-profit charity organisation which supports research into a rare and deadly form of brain cancer.

Dr De Rose and his family were about to embark on a harrowing journey. Their five-year-old daughter Isabella (pictured right) was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG): a cancer of the brainstem that only occurs in children and is terminal upon diagnosis.

The brainstem sits at the top of the spine, and is the passage through which all the nerve tracts from the spinal cord enter the brain. As the tumour grows, so do the symptoms – which become increasingly severe and debilitating, affecting motor functions as well as essential functions like swallowing, breathing and movement of the eyes.

At present, the only treatment offered for DIPG is radiotherapy, and this is palliative only.

“DIPG accounts for 10 to 15 percent of all brain tumours in children, but the survival rate of zero per cent means it is overrepresented in cancer deaths in children,” Dr De Rose explains.

“A little known fact is that brain tumours are now the leading cause of paediatric cancer deaths in Australia.”

Isabella passed away six months after her diagnosis. When Isabella lost her battle with DIPG, she was surrounded by her parents and two older brothers.

“Isabella was the last piece in the jigsaw that was our family,” says Dr De Rose. “Like her dad, she wanted to be a scientist – and even at five years old, she was already a reservoir of knowledge.”

Describing how the Isabella and Marcus Fund came to be, Dr De Rose recalls the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness that he and his wife felt throughout the period of Isabella’s illness. They soon realised this sense of powerlessness was shared by other families who had lost children to DIPG, like Marcus’ family.

“Marcus was diagnosed in September 2009 and lived for only nine weeks. After Marcus died, his mother, Daniela, contacted the hospital. She needed to speak to another mother who had experienced this disease. My wife Khush responded and they had a long phone conversation.”

Later, they went to visit Marcus’ family. From this meeting, it became clear that they shared a desire to drive research for a cure for DIPG. They established the Isabella and Marcus Fund in June 2010, and began fundraising in October that year.

The goal of the Isabella and Marcus Fund is to advocate for DIPG research and in the longer-term, establish a research base for DIPG in Melbourne.

“DIPG is a poorly understood cancer,” Dr De Rose says. “This is partly due to the difficulty in accessing tumour samples, but mainly due to the poor level of research funding it receives. Most of the research dollars going into this area have been provided by charities founded by parents who have lost their children to the disease.

“It’s a Catch 22: without the money for DIPG research there are few researchers, but without the researchers there are few proposals for government funding and progress remains stagnant.”

Despite these challenges, the past several years have delivered some success.

Dr Jeffrey Mann, a researcher in stem cell epigenetics at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, has been working on a DNA packaging protein and its function in stem cell development since 2007. This protein regulates DNA or gene activity and in 2012 it was discovered that certain mutations of this protein were drivers of brainstem cancer.

A mutual colleague introduced Dr Mann to Dr De Rose and as a result, Dr Mann’s laboratory is now involved in making models of DIPG by using its system to introduce cancer driver mutations in nervous system tissue.

“Having these models will allow us to do further research on what causes the disease, which will help in the development of treatments,” Dr Mann says.

“This story is a classic example of how basic research can lead to unexpected outcomes in translation to curing diseases,” Dr Mann says. “That we are able to be involved in exploring the causes of DIPG in this way is an exciting and promising development for my laboratory.”

In 2014, the Isabella and Marcus Fund will provide two to three scholarships for PhD candidates and its team is currently working to identify supervisors and students. Dr De Rose says they hope to identify PhD candidates with a focus on paediatric neuro-oncology, feeling that exposure to this disease through clinical research will encourage students to continue to study DIPG at a postdoctoral level.

Dr De Rose spends much of his time searching for cures for diseases that are the most unforgiving. During the day, he is a HIV/AIDS researcher at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, working in the laboratory of Professor Stephen Kent. Through his research, he aims to generate an immune response that will form a barrier to HIV infection.

He is driven by a desire to help develop a research cure for DIPG, in any way he can. ... 39eca.html

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:33 pm

The Brain Tumour Charity invites shoppers at Westfield, Shepherd's Bush to try out mind-powered game 'MindPong'

The Brain Tumour Charity has partnered with M&C Saatchi to create a mind-powered game raising awareness and support of the charity’s work.

Using Ocean Outdoor’s full-motion, digital, out-of-home screen on Eat Street – which the charity won the use of at Ocean Outdoor’s annual ‘Art of Outdoor’ competition - the Brain Tumour Charity will take over Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush on Monday 16 June to give shoppers the chance to try out the interactive gaming experience for themselves, whilst also learning more about the charity and the disease.

A two player game similar to Ping Pong and based on the iconic arcade game Pong, ‘Mind Pong’ uses electroencephalography (EEG) technology to read brain waves meaning there is no need for handheld controls.

A simple Velcro-attached headband monitors electrical activity in players’ brains connected to the digital screen, players can move the paddle up or down by concentrating (up) or relaxing (down).

Louise Taylor, director of fundraising and communications at the Brain Tumour Charity, commented: “We were honoured to win this prize from Ocean Outdoor thanks to M&C Saatchi’s work in creating Mind Pong. The day will enable us to raise awareness of brain tumours, the vital research we fund and the support we provide for anyone affected. In addition we will be able to share our ‘HeadSmart’ campaign with families so they are aware of the signs and symptoms of brain tumours in children and young people.”

Maurice Saatchi, founding director at M&C Saatchi, added: “I hope this interactive game hooks the player and helps people appreciate the brilliant work of the Brain Tumour Charity.”

Players will be asked for a £1 donation in exchange for playing the game with volunteers on site to offer more information about the charity and advice on looking out for the symptoms of brain tumours. The activity will be supported on social media throughout Monday using the hashtag #MindPong. ... nd-powered

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:22 pm

Tragedy as schoolboy raising money for cancer charity dies five days after being diagnosed with a brain tumour during a routine eye test

A 13-year-old boy who launched a solo mission to raise £1,000 for a cancer charity has died from a brain tumour - just days after it was detected through a routine eye test.

Arran Tosh had no idea he was critically-ill until he visited the opticians in his home town in Sudbury, Suffolk, less than two weeks ago.

The optician spotted pressure behind his eye and Arran was sent to hospital for further tests, where he was diagnosed with a slow-growing tumour.

But despite having emergency surgery that same week, the young boy died - just five days after being diagnosed.

Arran's diagnosis came just months after he had set up a JustGiving page to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

Arran was inspired to set up the page after his auntie Kerry was diagnosed with breast cancer. He vowed to shave his head if he reached his £1,000 target.

Donations have now poured in to Arran's website from all over the world. The total amount raised through the page, which was at £750 when Arran died, had reached £11,500 this morning.

His mother Alison, 43, said her son would be stunned by the generosity of the donations.

She said she and the rest of Arran's family were now hoping to set up a permanent trust in his name.

She said: 'Arran hoped to teach music, drama or history one day, but in the meantime, he just wanted to do as much as he could for charity.

'He said if he could reach the £1,000 for Cancer Research he would then raise money for HCPT - The Pilgrimage Trust - which takes children with special needs on pilgrimage to Lourdes in France.'

Arran's diagnosis came after he went for a routine eye test on May 31, where the optician detected some pressure behind his eyes.

The optician booked Arran in for an MRI scan and further eye tests at West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, three days later.

Those tests showed Arran had been living with a slow-growing brain tumour. Arran was then rushed to Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, for surgery.

But surgeons were unable to remove all the tumour and Arran was put on a life support. He died five days after his diagnosis, on Saturday, June 7.

Mrs Tosh told the Cambridge News: 'He came round, he was quite sleepy. But then there were complications with not being able to remove all of the tumour.

'Because the tumour was slow-growing and had been growing for years he could have been busking, playing football, with his friends or on his own with no family around him and just collapsed.'

Arran’s sister Abbie, 18, said the family was so proud of what Arran had achieved.

She said: 'He is my little angel and I am so proud of everything he has achieved, not only after his passing but when he was with us too.

'Arran would light up any room as soon as he walked into it and his smile was contagious - this is something that will carry on happening through his spirit.

'Although my little brother is no longer with us, I will forever love him and miss him, and I will always be proud of the young man he was.'

Arran, a keen footballer, had recently busked outside the Cancer Research charity shop in Sudbury to raise money for the cause.

His auntie Tracy Milligan said: 'Arran was tirelessly raising money for Cancer Research, inspired by his other auntie and a family friend who suffered the terrible disease.

'Then out of the blue last Monday morning, he was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

'With his family by his side, he calmly and bravely went into battle on Tuesday morning with that huge smile of his and a determined attitude.'

Mrs Tosh, along with his sisters Abbie and Chloe, 20, and his father Stephen, are now hoping to set up The Smile of Arran to continue with the teenager's fundraising mission.

Mrs Tosh said: 'Although Arran had so much ability and was so talented, he was never arrogant.

'He had a wonderful sense of humour and all he ever wanted to be was someone who made people happy - and he wanted to make other people’s lives easier.'

Arran loved singing and played the guitar with his band, The Stopclocks.

He was also an enthusiastic sportsman and aspiring actor.

Supporters left heartbreaking messages as they contributed to Arran’s cause on his JustGiving page.

The Keep family of Leavenheath, Suffolk, said: 'We weren’t lucky enough to have known you Arran but your story has touched our hearts. God bless and sleep tight x'

Lez said: 'Heard about this darling boy from a friend on twitter and it broke my heart. I am in Australia. God love you forever Arran.'

Hilary Scott said: 'In tears even though I did know Arran or his family. No words just respect for this brave little man.'

J Rout said: 'Such a blessing to have taught Arran at Hedingham. My prayers are with the family. Heavens choir has gained a wonderful soul. Keep them all in tune up there Arran!'

Amelia & Edward O’Connell said: 'Life won’t be the same without you. Your cheery smile will always be remembered. I am so lucky to have met such a great person. Our thoughts are with you and your family. Rest in peace Arran xxx' ... -test.html

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Sun Jun 15, 2014 2:09 pm

Brave Luke loses brain tumour battle

A brave toddler has lost his battle against an aggressive brain tumour.

At just seven-months-old, Luke Collins, from Holystone, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour known as optic nerve glioma, that left him blind.

But after years of treatment and chemotherapy, the four-year-old passed away on Wednesday afternoon.

Mum Fiona said: “It is comfort to know that so many people felt love for Luke.

“Life today has been empty at times but I’m hoping Luke is now running, eating and seeing all there is to see in heaven.

“He has battled for nearly four years but with a cheeky smile and a glint in his eye. He had an inner strength that was incredible.

“Since the turn of the year he has suffered set back after set back which we all thought was another obstacle he would overcome.

“Three weeks ago he took a sudden and unexpected downturn and we have nursed him at home.

“He passed away whilst getting a cuddle off his mammy and he was comfortable and in no pain.

“Luke was an inspiration during his short life and his story has touched so many people. We are so proud to have had a son like Luke.”

Holystone School have a book of memories that will be open until Friday, June 20, for people to sign. ... -1-6671376

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Mon Jun 16, 2014 9:36 pm

Donations flow to help 6yo boy get lifesaving brain tumour surgery

More than $100,000 has been raised in three days so a six-year-old Sunshine Coast boy can have surgery on a brain tumour in Sydney today.

James Warrington-Love was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour last December and had lifesaving surgery by brain surgeon Charlie Teo.

However, last week scans showed the tumour had returned and he will have more surgery today before flying to Belgium this week for groundbreaking treatment.

Queensland federal MP for Fisher, Mal Brough, says $104,000 has been raised since last Friday and just $16,000 more is needed to pay his medical bills.

"We've got a term we call it James's tree of life and we want people just to be a little limb or leaf on that tree and give him and his family every opportunity to make sure he has the best chance of surviving and growing as part of our community and on Monday that surgery will be undertaken and a few days later he'll be in Europe," he said.

He says the boy and his family will fly to Belgium to have the cancerous tissue used as a vaccine to fight his illness.

"All done. Locked into the hospital, [he will] be the first cab off the rank so to speak for his operation on Monday morning," he said.

"They'll collect the live tissue as soon as he's able to fly.

"He'll then be going to Belgium with the family and that's an ongoing process for a matter of weeks." ... ng/5525790

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Wed Jun 18, 2014 3:52 pm

Brain tumour caused uncontrollable laughter

A six-year-old girl's tendency to laugh uncontrollably at inappropriate times was because of a brain tumour, doctors in Bolivia have discovered.

The child was suffering gelastic seizures which made her giggle for no reason, doctors wrote in a case report published in ecancermedicalscience on June 16.

"She was considered spoiled, crazy — even devil-possessed," Dr Jos Liders Burgos Zuleta said.

But a brain scan revealed the unnamed girl had a hamartoma, a small benign tumour pressing against her temporal lobe.

US neurologist Solomon Mosh told LiveScience that despite the laughter, the girl may not have felt joy.

"It's not necessarily 'hahaha' laughing," Dr Mosh was quoted as saying.

"There's no happiness in this. Some of the kids may be very scared.

After the tumour was surgically removed, doctors now say the girl only laughs when it is appropriate. ... e-laughter

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Fri Jun 20, 2014 6:06 pm

Are We About to Cross the Blood-Brain Barrier, and Transform Medicine?

ne of the greatest frustrations for doctors dealing with brain tumors is called the blood brain barrier (BBB). It's the defense our bodies have created to keep toxins from passing from our blood into our brains — but it also stops medicines from making the crossing too. Now that may be about to change.

Today Helen Thompson has a fascinating profile in New Scientist of Toronto medical physicist Kullervo Hynynen, who plans to test a theory he has about how to get cancer medicines out of the bloodstream and into targeted brain tumors. His plan is to to use microbubbles in the blood — basically just really small bubbles of gas — to open up the layer between blood vessels and brain tissue.

And he's going to do it with ultrasound. Writes Thompson:

Hynynen's trial will involve 10 people with a cancerous brain tumour. First, the volunteers will be given a chemotherapy drug that does not usually cross the BBB. They will then receive an injection of microbubbles, which will spread throughout the body, including into the blood vessels that serve the brain.

Next is a treatment called high-intensity focused ultrasound. The volunteers will wear a cap that contains an array of transducers that direct ultrasound waves into their brain. Just as the sun's rays can be focused by a magnifying glass, ultrasound waves can be concentrated inside the body to get the microbubbles to vibrate.

The vibrating bubbles will expand and contract about 200,000 times a second, which will force apart the endothelial cells that form the BBB. The idea is that this will allow the chemotherapy drug in the bloodstream to sneak through the gaps in the barrier and into any nearby tumour cells.

She explains that the ultrasound will only be on for about 2 minutes, and that the BBB will begin to close after it has been turned off (it won't be completely closed for about six hours, however). During the treatment, the patients will be monitored with fMRI brain imaging machines to see whether the drug has crossed the BBB, aided by the vibrating microbubbles. The goal is just to get the drug to nine sites around the brain tumors.

Surgeons will remove the tumors shortly after the treatment, to get more information on whether the microbubble technique has worked. There are no guarantees that it will work, and there are many dangers associated with opening up the BBB. Our bodies evolved the BBB for a reason, which is that there are many chemicals and microbes that are perfectly harmless in our bloodstream — but could become extremely dangerous if unleashed on our gray matter.

The fact that this treatment could leave the brain vulnerable up to six hours is a cause for concern — but being able to deliver medicine to brain tumors may be worth the risk. It could mean a future where we might begin treating brain tumors with drugs, rather than surgery. ... 1592702943

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Sun Jun 22, 2014 7:39 pm

Going bald for brain

To Heather Scott, hair is just hair. It doesn't define who she is or how she looks. Not having it certainly doesn't make her a different person.

And if her bald head and that pile of hair left lying on the tiled ceramic floor at a hair salon in Welland can be used to motivate people to donate money, so be it.

It will grow back.

Shaving one's head for charity is nothing new. Many shave it as fundraiser. Others shave it as a sign of solidarity with someone going through cancer treatment.

Scott shaved her head this week as a thank you - a thank you to the doctors and nurses at Hamilton General Hospital who will cut into her skull next week and perform complex brain surgery that quite possibly will save her life.

For two decades Scott, a 47-year-old Welland woman, has been helping hospitals raise money. She spent 15 years with the Welland Hospital Foundation and now she has a similar role with St. Peter's Hospital in Hamilton.

But what she did Wednesday night was different.

Two years ago during an MRI Scott was having for an unrelated issue, doctors discovered a tumour in her brain.

“They weren't concerned with it so they said they would just wait and see,” said Scott.

Follow up MRIs determined the tumour was about 2.5cm long and located in a key vein carrying blood between the two sides of the brain. It's not believed to be cancerous, but because of it's location, surgery was determined to be the safest course of action.

The surgery will be done Wednesday at Hamilton General, not because Scott works in that city, but because these types of brain surgeries aren't offered in Niagara.

Scott said the Niagara Health System facilities offer “great care,” but said it's important people realize different hospitals specialize in different procedures. Of the more than than 2,400 neuro procedures performed at Hamilton General last year, nearly a quarter of them were for Niagara residents.

“We all have to support each other,” she said.

Scott wanted to directly help the neuro-science program that will perform her surgery so she set a fundraising goal of $4,500 to cover the cost of a specialized head support that holds a patient's head in place during surgery. By Thursday afternoon, midway through her first day with no hair, she had already raised more than $3,500.

“As the day went on (leading up to the head shaving) I got increasingly stressed. I was thinking 'this was a really dumb idea',” Scott said. “But as I watched the total go up, I realized I had a lot of people supporting me.”

Scott's longtime hairdresser, Lisa Wszolek, who did the head shaving Wednesday night at Hair Hunters in Welland, said her friend was taking it well.

“I think she's really brave and courageous,” Wszolek said.

To Scott, the experience has been enlightening.

“I think we know how our friends feel about us, but when you go through something like this, people verbalize it,” she said. “I think as humans, we need to be more verbal about how we feel about people when they're not going through something like this. Because you don't know if you're going to have the time to tell them.”

And as for the hair?

“It's just my hair. It's going to grow back,” said Scott. “Six months from now I'll look back and say 'it was worth it in the end'.” ... -for-brain

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Tue Jun 24, 2014 5:20 pm

Cancer by remote-control

Overlooked DNA shuffling drives deadly paediatric brain tumour

In a nutshell:

Identified key genes behind Group 3 medulloblastoma

Gene-activation process not typically looked-for in solid tumors: large-scale DNA rearrangements put genes close to enhancers

1st mouse model that truly mimics the genetics of this paediatric brain tumour

One of the deadliest forms of paediatric brain tumour, Group 3 medulloblastoma, is linked to a variety of large-scale DNA rearrangements which all have the same overall effect on specific genes located on different chromosomes. The finding, by scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ), both in Heidelberg, Germany, and Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in San Diego, USA, is published online today in Nature.

To date, the only gene known to play an important role in Group 3 medulloblastoma was a gene called MYC, but that gene alone couldn’t explain some of the unique characteristics of this particular type of medulloblastoma, which has a higher metastasis rate and overall poorer prognosis than other types of this childhood brain tumour. To tackle the question, Jan Korbel’s group at EMBL and collaborators at DKFZ tried to identify new genes involved, taking advantage of the large number of medulloblastoma genome sequences now known.

“We were surprised to see that in addition to MYC there are two other major drivers of Group 3 medulloblastoma – two sister genes called GFI1B and GFI1,” says Korbel. “Our findings could be relevant for research on other cancers, as we discovered that those genes had been activated in a way that cancer researchers don’t usually look for in solid tumours.”

Rather than take the usual approach of looking for changes in individual genes, the team focused on large-scale rearrangements of the stretches of DNA that lie between genes. They found that the DNA of different patients showed evidence of different rearrangements: duplications, deletions, inversions, and even complex alterations involving many ‘DNA-shuffling’ events. This wide array of genetic changes had one effect in common: they placed GFI1B close to highly active enhancers – stretches of DNA that can dramatically increase gene activity. So large-scale DNA changes relocate GFI1B, activating this gene in cells where it would normally be switched off. And that, the researchers surmise, is what drives the tumour to form.

“Nobody has seen such a process in solid cancers before,” says Paul Northcott from DKFZ, “although it shares similarities with a phenomenon implicated in leukaemias, which has been known since the 80s.”

GFI1B wasn’t affected in all cases studied, but in many patients where it wasn’t, a related gene with a similar role, GFI1, was. GFI1B and GFI1 sit on different chromosomes, and interestingly, the DNA rearrangements affecting GFI1 put it next to enhancers sitting on yet other chromosomes. But the overall result was identical: the gene was activated, and appeared to drive tumour formation.

To confirm the role of GFI1B and GFI1 in causing medulloblastoma, the Heidelberg researchers turned to the expertise of Robert Wechsler-Reya’s group at Sanford-Burnham. Wechsler-Reya’s lab genetically modified neural stem cells to have either GFI1B or GFI1 turned on, together with MYC. When they inserted those modified cells into the brains of healthy mice, the rodents developed aggressive, metastasising brain tumours that closely resemble Group 3 medulloblastoma in humans.

These mice are the first to truly mimic the genetics of the human version of Group 3 medulloblastoma, and researchers can now use them to probe further. The mice could, for instance, be used to test potential treatments suggested by these findings. One interesting option to explore, the scientists say, is that highly active enhancers – like the ones they found were involved in this tumour – can be vulnerable to an existing class of drugs called bromodomain inhibitors. And, since neither GFI1B nor GFI1 is normally active in the brain, the study points to possible routes for diagnosing this brain tumour, too.

But the mice also raised another question the scientists are still untangling. For the rodents to develop medulloblastoma-like tumours, activating GFI1 or GFI1B was not enough; MYC also had to be switched on. In human patients, however, scientists have found a statistical link between MYC and GFI1, but not between MYC and GFI1B, so the team is now following up on this partial surprise.

“What we’re learning from this study is that clearly one has to think outside the box when trying to understand cancer genomes,” Korbel concludes. ... ntrol.html

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Thu Jun 26, 2014 8:08 pm

Jab 'protects mice against brain tumours'

Scientists have developed a vaccine that they say provides some protection against brain tumours in mice.

The vaccine works by boosting the immune system to attack abnormal cells.

The approach has not been tested on humans, but clinical trials could begin next year in Germany, say researchers.

Brain tumours are difficult to treat so more research is urgently needed to give patients better options, said a cancer charity.

A team at the National Centre for Tumour Diseases in Heidelberg developed a vaccine that targets brain tumour cells.

It is based on the natural ability of some patients with brain tumours to mount an immune response against the disease - although this is not enough to stop the tumour growing.

The mouse experiment showed that a vaccine may be able to boost this natural approach, the researchers said.

"We can induce an immune response that is similar to what we see in some brain tumour patients who have a natural immunity but it is not strong enough to take care of the tumour," said Prof Michael Platten.

The team is applying for approval to start a human clinical trial in Germany next year.

'Exciting approach'

"It's still too early to know if the vaccine will be efficacious in humans," he added.

The charity Cancer Research UK described the research, published in Nature, as "exciting".

"Using the immune system to attack cancer is an exciting approach to tackling the disease and this research is another step forward in finding new treatments," said Dr Emma Smith, senior science information officer.

"But this is a very early-stage study and was carried out in mice, so much more research is needed before we know if the vaccine is safe or effectively boosts an immune response against brain tumours in people.

"Brain tumours are a diverse group of cancers and are difficult to treat, so we urgently need more research to give people better options."

Other researchers around the world are looking into similar vaccines to stimulate the immune system to fight off cancer.

A trial started in the UK last year into a similar vaccine to fight brain tumours.

The approach, known as immunotherapy, is also being tested in the US.

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Sat Jun 28, 2014 8:08 pm

Cat brings comfort as Rochelle fights brain cancer

Rochelle Bugden's kitten, Tuma, is both a comfort and a reminder of her continuing battle against two brain tumours.

The aggressive tumours are inoperable, so the 21-year-old Oak Flats woman is pinning her hopes on a clinical trial at Royal Melbourne Hospital.

On Friday, she was anxiously waiting for a phone call, with her parents Kim and Rob ready to whisk her to Melbourne for tests that would determine her suitability for several trials into tumours being conducted at the hospital.

It is their last hope.

"Every time you start to feel positive, you get a kick in the guts with more bad news," Mr Bugden said. "It's hard to take. We just hope she gets into one of these trials. She's been so strong, but she needs some hope."

It was just one week before Rochelle Bugden's 21st birthday last September that a brain scan showed up an abnormal growth.

Doctors put off a biopsy for the week to allow her to celebrate the milestone, but when the results finally came in, they were not good.

"I was diagnosed with a grade-four glioblastoma on my brain stem," she said.

"When they did the biopsy and debulked [removed] part of the tumour, it led to paralysis on the left side of my face, as the tumour was so close to nerves. They cannot operate any further."

She went through a course of chemotherapy, then in April there was more bad news with the discovery of another tumour on the frontal lobe.

More chemotherapy followed, as well as stereotactic radiotherapy at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney.

"After that, I started to get really bad migraines and doctors have told me both of the tumours are growing again - 'significantly', they said.

"There's no cure. I'm only hoping that I can get accepted into one of these trials so I feel like I'm doing something. I hate sitting here doing nothing."

The chemotherapy has thinned, not taken, her hair, but the paralysis has blurred her vision and she has lost her hearing on her left side.

"The medication is keeping me from feeling nauseous, but some days I just have no energy.

"It's hard; I was upset, but now I'm pretty emotionless."

She said she gets a lot of support from her parents and older sister, Kara, plus her kitten has given her some joy.

"She's been asking for a kitten since she was a little girl," Mr Bugden said. "But we're not cat people, so we always said 'no'.

"When the second tumour was discovered, she asked us again. How could we say no?"

Mrs Bugden has had to give up work to care for her ill daughter, and the family faces ongoing medical expenses. ... er/?cs=298

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Sun Jun 29, 2014 8:40 pm

Bikers Against Brain Cancer hit the road

ST. ANDREW'S WEST - It's a locally-started battle against brain cancer.

And one that isn't so local anymore.

The annual Bikers Against Brain Cancer fundraising ride had over 100 riders participating Saturday from the Cornwall area - where the event originated five years ago - and there was also big-time participation from chapters in the Ottawa area and Brockville, too.

"We're expecting from 60 to 80 riders in Orleans, and 30-50 in Brockville,'' said Ray Eady, the Bikers Against Brain Cancer chairman and vice-president of the Cornwall Kinsmen Club that runs the event.

Regardless of the originating point, all roads led to Smiths Falls on Saturday morning. Later in the day, all the participants converged on Guindon Park, just west of Cornwall.

It's Dr. Paul Poirier, who's been in a battle with brain cancer, who founded the fundraising ride, and thousands of dollars are raised each year, with $5,600 - plus a $1,000 grant from one of the major sponsors, Allstate Insurance - handed over to the Montreal Neurological Institute for brain cancer research after last year's ride.

It was already a very good week for the cause a few days before Saturday, with just over $1,000 raised at a spaghetti dinner, one attended by little Leeland Hill, age four, of the Halifax area. Hill was the honourary chair for this year's events, and he's been in Cornwall this week along with his mom Denise Hill and grandfather Rod McQueen.

Denise Hill said the Maritimers have been overwhelmed by Cornwall's hospitality.

"We've loved being here, it's more than I ever expected, more than we could ever have asked for,'' she said.

Hill read about the cause on Facebook, and she contacted the Cornwall group. That's when event organizers decided her son should be this year's honourary chair, and that they'd have him brought to Cornwall with his family.

Leeland just over a year ago needed immediate surgery to remove a tennis ball-sized tumour from the back of his brain, and Denise Hill said the procedure went well and that her son is now cancer-free.

Leeland during his trip has visited with the police chief, has stopped in at the fire station and has even been greeted by the mayor.

"We're glad he's doing well and glad he's here,'' Eady said, adding that he hopes that when everything is tabulated, this year's efforts will have raised over $10,000.

Future editions could get even larger.

"Our intentions are to start an east coast ride in the next year or two, to help grow this even further,'' Eady said.

Norm Arsenault, of Cornwall, was a first-time participant in the even after spending some time out in western Canada. While checking out a map of the trip in the parking lot on Saturday morning, Arsenault said he expected a memorable day was ahead of him.

"It's going to be fun, and it's for a good cause,'' said Arsenault, who noted that a big group ride like this one required paying lots of attention during the trip.

"You just have to be careful, keep an eye on things and obey the laws. When you're in a group, you help each other.''

The event's motto is "Chasing a Cure, One Mile at a Time'', and riders all paid $30 to participate. ... t-the-road

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