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National Brain Tumor Society Announces Launch of Defeat GBM Research Collaborative

Published on November 21, 2013 in Press Release

National Brain Tumor Society, the largest nonprofit dedicated to the brain tumor community in the United States, today announced the formation of the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative. Defeat GBM is a strategic research initiative, which aims to double the five-year survival rate of patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) – the most common and deadliest form of brain cancer – in just five years.

To achieve this goal, the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative will connect leading brain tumor researchers from top cancer institutions across the globe, in a tightly focused and goal-driven effort. Through research collaboration, synergistic projects will be combined and driven by investigator teams with proven track records of results to create significant improvement in patient survival. The primary goal will be to share data among all projects and investigator teams within Defeat GBM to better inform the overall effort, and to advance potential therapies down the drug discovery pipeline.

“Defeat GBM draws upon successful science and proven funding models from other disease populations that have yet to be utilized in brain tumor research,” said N. Paul TonThat, Executive Director of the National Brain Tumor Society. “The brain tumor community can no longer spend years and millions of dollars to achieve only incremental progress in this deadly disease.”

A team of senior brain cancer experts acting as the Strategic Scientific Advisory Council (SSAC) will oversee the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative. The Advisors will chart the strategic direction of Defeat GBM research, regularly review Defeat GBM’s achievements and progress, and hold the project teams accountable for attaining key milestones and annual goals during the five-year quest, which will also determine continued financial support. Defeat GBM’s construct is also specifically designed to encourage and integrate additional GBM research projects taking place at other institutions not only in the United States, but across the globe. As such, the Advisors will also be responsible for reviewing any additional and complementary research projects that may come into Defeat GBM in the coming months and years.

This esteemed group of research leaders will partner with Defeat GBM’s Managing Director, Carrie Treadwell (National Brain Tumor Society, Director of Research) and its Scientific Director, Dr. W.K. Alfred Yung, Margaret and Ben Love Chair of Clinical Cancer Care, and Professor of Neuro-Oncology and Cancer Biology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, to direct the overall research initiative. Additional members of the SSAC include:

  • Dr. Webster Cavenee – Director, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, San Diego and Distinguished Professor at the University of California, San Diego
  • Dr. Anna Barker – Director of Transformative Healthcare Networks, and Co-Director of the Complex Adaptive Systems Initiative at Arizona State University
  • Dr. Richard Gaynor – Director of Clinical Development & Medical Affairs at Eli Lilly and Company
  • Dr. Mitchel S. Berger – Chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery, Director of the Brain Tumor Surgery Program and Director of the Neurosurgical Research Centers at the Brain Tumor Research Center at University of California, San Francisco
  • Dr. Darrell D. Bigner – Director of The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University
  • Dr. George D. Demetri – Director of the Ludwig Center at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center and Professor of Medicine, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School
  • Dr. William C. Hahn – Senior Associate Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and Professor of Medicine, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School

Participating researchers and investigator teams for key projects within Defeat GBM will initially stem from institutions such as: MD Anderson and Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. The Initiative will also actively collaborate with the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) on a parallel bioinformatics and GBM genomics project, which capitalizes on NFCR’s longstanding relationship with the Tissue Bank Consortium in Tianjin, China.

Additional and unique aspects of this program are the simultaneous research efforts in basic discovery science, translational science, pre-clinical drug development, and clinical trial design, all intended to identify the right biological targets and attack them with the right therapies in the right patients. To illustrate, one research project performs an exhaustive search to identify specific mechanisms of resistance (and acquired resistance) to existing therapies. As this project produces potential targets, another group of investigators (who have been screening drug candidates – both existing, and new compounds developed “in-house” by Defeat GBM researchers)will be prepared to test candidates (individually and in combination) on the new (and already known) targets both in vitro and in vivo (mouse models). Then, a third project, which had concurrently been investigating predictive biomarkers of response and resistance, will be ready to stratify patients into clinical groupings for its Smart Clinical Trials based on the targeted therapies developed through the work of the first groups.

The cumulative efforts of the collaborative framework, the combined scientific expertise, and the common scientific goal among all participants, should allow Defeat GBM to advance a therapy to the clinic that will make a meaningful difference for those suffering from this terrible disease and their families.

About Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM)

GBM is one of the most devastating forms of all cancer, with a dismal life expectancy after diagnosis of less than 15 months [1]. GBM is also extremely complex, with some four known subtypes and multiple mutations per tumor. After initial resection and chemo/radiation treatment, it almost universally comes back, and when it does, it virtually always resists the original and standard of care treatment. Despite breakthroughs in understanding the tumor, no recent therapy has proven effective beyond just a couple of months. Thus, there is still more to learn about how the disease escapes anti-cancer drugs that often work even in other cancers with similar genomes, which is one of the main project focuses of Defeat GBM.

[1] National Cancer Institute (NCI)

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