global view constructed of white lines
petri dish
March 25, 2016

The Landscape of Brain Cancer Medicine: The Next 20 years

by Zara Jethani

We are at a point in medicine where in the near future many types of cancers will be in long-term remission and will even achieve the tentative status of being cured. Funding at the national level for Precision Medicine programs, including cancer, is dramatically helping to achieve this goal. President Obama’s Summit for Precision Medicine in February 2016 called for cancer researchers and patient volunteers to partner together to increase our accessible database of knowledge to help find innovative, safe and lasting treatments.

Two independent “Moonshot” initiatives were proposed last year as an urgent response to tackling cancer, the second leading cause of death in the United States. The first initiative, Patrick Soon-Shiong’s Cancer Moonshot 2020 program, works along side leading companies to target twenty types of cancer and develop personalized cancer vaccines by 2020. The second initiative, chaired by Vice President Joe Biden, is aggressively pursuing ways for government organizations and private sector pharmaceuticals to work together, share research and create a host of treatments within the next five years.

Dr. Garni Barkhoudarian, a brain and pituitary tumor neurosurgeon specialist at Pacific Neuroscience Institute (PNI), believes that we are at a pivotal time in cancer medicine. He envisions a transformation in how people will view and treat cancer in the future.

What does this mean for patients who have brain cancer now? Are there options that will help them during the course of their disease?

PNI’s Dr. Santosh Kesari believes this to be the case. His own research and clinical efforts have produced real-time results through bench-to-bedside medicine. Thinking outside the box, he develops personalized approaches to create tumor profiles for his patients and then uses combination therapies of novel non-invasive devices, targeted cancer drugs, and immunotherapies to combat the disease. He has treated many patients successfully with this strategy and believes that this one-on-one approach will be one of the key shifts in how cancer is treated over the coming decade. Recently, aired a heart-warming story of one of Dr. Kesari’s young teen patients who benefited from this individualized treatment approach.

Results from Dr. Kesari’s recent study published in Oncotarget, generated a data grid which acts as a valuable precision medicine tool. It allows neuro-oncologists to determine which specific therapies would be most effective in individual patients based on their tumor’s genetic make-up. This study, on Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common malignant primary brain tumor, represents the largest biomarker study to date using multiple technologies to detect gene mutations. The data is essential to planning future personalized biomarker-based clinical trials and identifying effective treatments based on tumor biomarkers.

In addition, the way medical research is conducted is being transformed. Research and clinical trials can now go hand in hand. In November 2015, the GBM AGILE initiative was announced as a new global approach to lead researchers to a cure for GBM.

Dr. Daniel Kelly, PNI Director, has an optimistic outlook on the future of brain, skull base and pituitary tumor treatments. His research continues to explore refining less invasive surgical approaches and techniques. “Our view over the last 20 years and looking forward toward the next 20 years, shows that minimally invasive ‘keyhole’ approaches have evolved dramatically and their use, appears to result in more successful outcomes, and faster recoveries, with less collateral damage to surrounding normal brain structures. I’m certain this evolution of methodologies will continue over the next two decades. For example, the use of newer technologies, such as fiber tractography and BrainPath, allow us to more safely and precisely access deep-seated tumors or blood clots. While the ultimate benefit of such technologies remains to be proven, the outlook is promising.”

PNI brings advanced ideas and technologies to our patients now and continues to be on the forefront of neuroscience treatment. For more information or for a consultation, please contact us by phone or online.

About the Author

Zara Jethani, MS, MBA

Zara Jethani

Zara is the marketing director at Pacific Neuroscience Institute. Her background is in molecular genetics research and healthcare marketing. In addition, she is a graphic designer with more than 20 years experience in the healthcare, education and entertainment industries.

Last updated: November 13th, 2019