Glioblastoma added to Moon Shots Program
MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program, an unprecedented effort and novel organizational model designed to more rapidly convert scientific discoveries into life-saving advances, has added six new targets, including glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive primary brain tumor in adults. The Glioblastoma Moon Shot is led by Amy Heimberger, M.D., professor of Neurosurgery, along with John de Groot, M.D., chair ad interim of Neuro-Oncology, and Frederick Lang, M.D., professor of Neurosurgery.
The flagship projects of the moon shot focus on precision immunotherapy, biological therapeutics, and drug development and selection. One of the biological therapeutics, a cancer-killing virus called Delta-24, was featured in the fall 2015 edition of Conquest magazine. Learn more about the Glioblastoma Moon Shot or read the press release.
Study redefines brain tumor diagnosis and treatment
Not all brain cancers are the same but together they represent a deadly disease that has been difficult to identify and treat. Scientists at multiple institutions have found a new way of classifying brain cancers that could very well change how the illness is diagnosed and treated.
The study, a project of The Cancer Genome Atlas, found striking molecular differences between various forms of gliomas or brain tumors.
“We found molecular signatures that better define clinical behavior based on our analysis,” said W.K. Alfred Yung, M.D., former chair of Neuro-Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Center and a co-author on the study. “We hope this will impact how physicians both diagnose and plan therapies for brain cancer.”
The Department of Neuro-Oncology provides state-of-the-art treatment for patients with cancers of the brain and nervous system. Physicians in the department also provide expert care for patients that endure neurologic complications from cancer or cancer therapies. The department cares for more than 500 new patients with brain tumors each year.
The neuro-oncology team of skilled and experienced physicians participates in a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care — neurologists treat central and peripheral nervous system conditions that may affect cancer patients, while neuropsychologists diagnose and treat cognitive and behavioral effects of cancer, or help patients learn ways to minimize cancer's impact on their quality of life. In addition, physicians in the department work with neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, neuropathologists and neuroradiologists to plan a course of treatment that is unique and comprehensive for each patient. The physicians treat patients that are battling central nervous system tumors, including gliomas (glioblastoma multiforme, astrocytoma, brainstem glioma, ependymoma, oligodendroglioma), meningioma, vestibular schwannoma, central nervous system lymphoma, metastatic disease to the brain and spine, or primary spinal cord tumors.
Physicians in the department of Neuro-Oncology also specialize in genetic disorders. Neurofibromatosis is a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow in the nervous system. The Neurofibromatosis Working Group provides exceptional care and treatment for patients with the disorder. It also works to translate laboratory advances into improved treatments for these patients. The group is a collaborative effort that includes Neuro-Oncology, Neurosurgery and Investigational Cancer Therapeutics.
Central to the department's mission is the discovery of new therapies for malignant and benign tumors and genetic disorders through clinical and laboratory research. In the laboratory, we test new therapeutic agents and approaches to gene therapy to target and kill cancer cells, or to disrupt the signaling pathways that control tumor growth. The Department of Neuro-Oncology is developing drug combination strategies that can overcome the tumor cell's ability to develop resistance to a single drug. Another important goal of the program is to develop and fund translational research so that therapies developed in the laboratory can be quickly brought to the clinical setting.
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