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National Brain Tumor Society & Memorial Sloan Kettering Agreement Bolsters Research Efforts to Combat Deadliest Brain Cancer

Published on July 6, 2016 in Press Release

Renowned Cancer Center to Join Defeat GBM Research Collaborative

National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS), the largest nonprofit organization in the U.S. dedicated to the brain tumor community, today announced that it has entered into a Collaborative Agreement with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) for the famed New York hospital and research institute to officially join its flagship research program, the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative (Defeat GBM).

“Despite being an area of urgent high-unmet medical need, glioblastoma, or GBM, the most common and deadliest of all brain cancers, has unfortunately seen little progress in developing more effective treatments against it during the past few decades,” said David F. Arons, JD, Chief Executive Officer, National Brain Tumor Society. “With a structured scientific and funding consortium, the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative, NBTS seeks to leverage team science and collaboration in order to accelerate drug discovery and development activities to advance potentially new, more effective therapies to the clinic as quickly as possible. As such, we are thrilled that Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center will now be formally participating in this effort, adding even more expertise to the Collaborative.”

Defeat GBM Research Collaborative is a multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary model for precision medicine in brain cancer. Four “cores” – Discovery, Drug Development, Predictive Markers (Biomarkers), and SMART/Adaptive Clinical Trials – composed of research teams led by leaders in the neuro-oncology field work together to move scientific findings through the drug discovery and development process to the clinic. The goal of Defeat GBM is to double the percentage of GBM patients surviving five years or more.

NBTS announced the launch of the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative in early 2013, bringing together a team of expert cancer researchers to develop its unique collaborative scientific infrastructure and funding model. Throughout 2013, research teams for each core were selected and assembled; project plans were finalized; and agreements were put in place with institutions representing these world-class scientists, including MD Anderson Cancer Center and Ludwig Cancer Research. In 2014, funding initiated and research got underway.

The new agreement with MSK brings another world-class institution into the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative as an official “Scientific Collaborator” working toward the program’s goals.

“Memorial Sloan Kettering is deeply honored to join National Brain Tumor Society in this important endeavor,” said Lisa DeAngelis, MD, Chair, Department of Neurology. “We see great promise in Dr. Mellinghoff’s project, and anticipate that it will considerably advance our understanding of the biology of drug response in glioma.”

Ingo Mellinghoff, MD has been leading a supplemental project to Defeat GBM’s Drug Development Core focusing on the systems biology of drug response in GBM tumors. These efforts will now be expanded, so that information from this project can be fed to other cores to help discovery science and biomarker development efforts understand what happens in GBM tumors, at a systems level, when they are hit with different drugs. Eventually, targets and compounds of interest identified in the Defeat GBM’s Discovery and Drug Development cores will be evaluated for systems biology response by Dr. Mellinghoff as well, as means to validate their potential activity and build their preclinical profiles.

“Dr. Mellinghoff is a true visionary in targeted therapy for glioblastoma and the application of complex, adaptive cellular systems to understand the mechanism of tumor resistance and heterogeneity,” said Dr. W.K. Alfred Yung of MD Anderson Cancer Center and Scientific Director of the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative. “Understanding how tumor cells react and change as part of a system in the face of treatment, will impart a more predictive approach to new therapy development to the other Cores in the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative, thus enhancing the preclinical and translational research process. As Scientific Director of the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative, I’m excited that we’ll be able to engage more deeply with Dr. Mellinghoff and his lab.”

About Glioblastoma

Glioblastoma (GBM), sometimes referred to as Glioblastoma Multiforme, is the most common and deadliest malignant brain tumor – or brain cancer. Glioblastoma makes up 45% of all brain cancer cases and is aggressive, complex, and exceedingly treatment-resistant. GBM forms in the glial tissue of the brain – the supportive “gluey” tissue that keeps neurons in place and functioning correctly. As such, GBM is part of a group of tumor referred to as gliomas. GBM is the most common glioma, and is considered a “high-grade glioma” because it is the most aggressive. GBM can also be classified as a WHO grade IV astrocytoma, as they originate in astrocyte cells. An estimated 12,120 new cases of GBM will be diagnosed in 2016. Though GBM tumors can affect anyone at any age, the mean age at diagnosis is 64. Mean survival after diagnosis is only 12-18 months, and the current five-year survival rate is only 5-10%.

About the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative

The Defeat GBM Research Collaborative (Defeat GBM) operates from the CURE GBM, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Brain Tumor Society. Defeat GBM is a groundbreaking, research-based initiative that takes advantage of the convergence of exciting scientific advancements, an innovative business model, and support from biopharmaceutical companies to drive research forward with the aim of doubling the five-year survival rate of GBM patients. Building from the pioneering data discovered through The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and the growing commitment to true collaboration across disciplines and institutions, all members of the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative share real-time information of one another’s cutting-edge research to quicken the pace of translating discoveries into clinical stage research—cutting years out of the traditional brain cancer R&D process.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) is the world’s oldest and largest private cancer center, home to more than 13,000 physicians, scientists, nurses, and staff united by a relentless dedication to conquering cancer. As an independent institution, MSK combines 130 years of research and clinical leadership with the freedom to provide highly individualized, exceptional care to each patient. MSK’s always-evolving educational programs continue to train new leaders in the field, here and around the world. For more information, visit

About National Brain Tumor Society

National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) is the largest nonprofit organization in the U.S. dedicated to the brain tumor community. We are fiercely committed to finding better treatments and driving rapid progress toward a cure for brain tumors. We drive a multi-faceted and thoughtful approach to aggressively influence and fund strategic research, as well as advocate for public policy changes, in order to achieve the greatest impact, results, and progress for brain tumor patients. Money raised by the generous donations of our supporters has directly funded groundbreaking discoveries, programs, clinical trials and policy initiatives.

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