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Brain Tumor Research

As one of the world's largest cancer research centers, MD Anderson is leading the way in developing and evaluating new approaches to brain cancer diagnosis and treatment. Patients benefit from the most advanced brain tumor research, translated into clinical trials as quickly as possible.

Current treatments for both primary brain tumors and brain metastases (cancer that has spread to the brain from another place in the body) are low in number and short on effectiveness. Because brain tumors contain an unusually diverse mix of cells, our plan of attack is diverse as well.

We’re building on biological therapies developed at MD Anderson, like the Delta-24-RGD virus, and testing methods that use the body’s own cells to deliver these therapies more effectively. With advanced models, we’re also screening existing drugs to find targeted combinations that can penetrate the blood-brain barrier. In the cutting-edge field of immunotherapy, our team is working on approaches using T cells, natural killer cells, signaling pathways and checkpoint inhibitors to unleash the immune system to fight brain cancer.

Existing brain tumor treatments are often toxic, threatening neurological function and quality of life. Our scientists are also investigating regenerative medicine approaches to protect and repair the brain during and after treatment. We aim to find better, safer solutions to treat both primary brain tumors and brain metastases.

Through unique programs and other pioneering brain tumor research, MD Anderson has:

  • Led the initial clinical trials that established temozolomide (Temodar) as the current standard of care for glioblastoma
  • Established that surgically removing at least 98% of the tumor improves survival in glioblastoma patients
  • Devised unique genetically engineered laboratory models of gliomas to identify cancer drivers and test potential therapies
  • Created Delta-24-RGD, a novel cancer-killing virus that has demonstrated significant response in early clinical trials
  • Determined how gliomas use a metabolic process known as the “Warburg effect” for cancer growth, laying the groundwork for improved diagnosis and treatment
  • Defined molecular signatures of brain tumors and completed a comprehensive genomic analysis of low-grade gliomas, influencing the 2016 World Health Organization (WHO) classification of central nervous system tumors and resulting in more precise diagnosis and treatment planning
  • Identified unique drivers of brain metastasis development and illustrated how the central nervous system microenvironment fosters this development
  • Demonstrated that brain function is better preserved with radiosurgery than whole brain radiation in patients with brain metastases

Brain Tumor Research News and Articles

Clinical Trials

MD Anderson patients have access to clinical trials offering promising new treatments that cannot be found anywhere else.

Knowledge Center

Find the latest news and information about brain cancer in our Knowledge Center, including blog posts, articles, videos, news releases and more.