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Continuing Focus on Oncology Research

Oncology Research at MNIThe Mischer Neuroscience Institute Brain Tumor Center at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center continues to offer clinical trials for both newly diagnosed and recurrent malignant gliomas. The most significant development is the new approval of the NovoTTF/Optune device for newly diagnosed GBM, an expansion from the initial approval at relapse. There was a clear improvement in OS in a 2:1 randomized trial from 16 months to 19 months.

Although there are logistical challenges using the device, fortunately, it does not cause any added neurological toxicity or myelosuppression. As we wait for FDA approval to filter down to insurance authorization, we will be ready to help patients access this breakthrough technology.

We are also awaiting final dose finding results from the novel, blood brain barrier crossing taxane, TPI-287, in combination with bevacizumab. Currently, the trial is in Phase I, using a 3+3, dose escalating design, and we expect more availability as it opens into Phase II. Although treatment for glioblastoma at relapse is a very tough target to tackle, we continue to bring novel clinical trials forward.

We are offering patients the pivotal trial of the Toca 511 replication competent virus (which carries the prodrug activating gene, cytosine deaminase), which will be delivered at surgery for recurrent glioblastoma. We also are eagerly awaiting the launch of the tumor vaccine ICT-107, for newly diagnosed patients who have the appropriate specific immunophenotype.

The team is committed to providing the best options for patients, whether it is cranial or spine surgery, Gamma Knife radiosurgery, neuro-oncology or consultative neurology. We continue to advocate a multidisciplinary approach, with review of pathology, radiology and opinions from neurosurgery, neuro-oncology, and radiation oncology at our tumor board.

We are having success working with TIRR Memorial Hermann, as they are establishing centers of excellence for cancer patients at Kirby Glen, Memorial City and The Woodlands. We believe an integrated approach with neurologic localization to guide optimal pain control (whether local interventional treatment, pharmacologic or targeted oncologic treatment) in combination with rehab has the best chance of improving patient function and quality of life. For more information, call (713) 704-7100.