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Malignant Gliomas and Glioblastoma

Malignant glioma, and glioblastoma (GBM) in particular, are the most common and fatalof all primary brain cancers. All malignant gliomas undergo the same non-curative treatment, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

Precision Medicine Applied to Brain Tumors: Personalizing the Use of Chemotherapy

Given that the molecular features of malignant gliomas are highly variable across patients, these tumors have been classified into different groups based on which genes are active or expressed. These molecular patterns and their underlying mechanisms might provide insights into vulnerabilities that are unique to each individual disease.

Chemotherapy Delivery Into the Brain: Focusing on the Barriers

Given by traditional routes, most chemothreapies do not reach brain tumor cells at sufficient levels, in large part because of the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB). The BBB is a network of physiological processes and cellular architecture unique to the vasculature of the central nervous system, which excludes large organic molecules from entering the brain. This is normally protective and guards the brain from toxic or pathogenic molecules. But in instances of disease, this also protect cancer from chemotherapy. The Sonabend Lab is currently engaged in a Phase I/IIa clinical trial (NCT04528680) using an implantable focused ultrasound device, which can focally disrupt the BBB at targetted areas surrounding a patient's tumor, and facilitate the delivery of chemotherapies. It is our hope that this device, in combination with the chemotherapy Paclitaxel, will extend the survival of patients living with recurrent GBM. 

Glioma-Immune System Interactions

Sonabend’s Lab is also investigating how gliomas interact with the immune system and the possible implications for immunotherapy. Our lab recently reported that expression of the biomarker pERK can be used to predict survival in patients of recurrent GBM, after treating with immunotherapeutic checkpoint blockade.