Chicago, IL (PRWEB) July 25, 2014
Progress in understanding the molecular genetics of brain tumors has ushered in a new era of promising brain tumor treatments, according to Patrick Wen, MD, professor of neurology, Harvard Medical School, director of the Center for Neuro-Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
At the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA) annual Patient and Family Conference in Chicago, July 25-26, Dr. Wen will moderate a session on how science and new technology are impacting the development of new treatments and advancing strategies to minimize treatment side effects.
“We are getting better at understanding why certain treatments haven’t worked in the past, and we are learning more about the molecular changes that are driving the growth of certain brain tumors, so it’s really an exciting time,” said Dr. Wen. “Unlike lung cancer and other types of leukemia or melanoma where there is one gene that is turned on in most patients, in glioblastomas (GBMs) an aggressive type of malignant brain tumor, there are many genes that are turned on which makes targeted treatments much more complicated.”
The goal of targeted molecular therapies—unlike standard chemotherapy which kills every dividing cell— is to block specific receptors or pathways that are “turned on” just in the tumor. Trials are underway at Harvard and other centers across the country where researchers are examining the genes that are “turned on” since some believe certain genes may be more important targets than others.
“The hope is that this treatment approach would be less toxic and more effective than standard chemotherapy, and we are involved in sophisticated trials where we are trying to match a brain tumor patient’s molecular change to a specific drug designed to target that particular change,” he added.
In just the last 12 months, Dr. Wen says the field has seen significant advances in the potential of immunot
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