Barrow granted $50 million for brain cancer research

The Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation granted the Barrow Neurological Institute $50 million to accelerate research of the most dangerous form of brain cancer, glioblastoma.

Glioblastoma is a subtype of glioma, which is a primary brain tumor. It is also the disease that claimed the life of Senator John McCain.

The funding Barrow received from the Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation will “be used to dramatically accelerate drug discovery and clinical testing for glioblastoma in the newly formed Ivy Brain Tumor Center at the Barrow Neurological Institute.”

Advancing brain cancer research can make a big impact on those suffering, and on those who will face the disease in the future.

According to the National Brain Tumor Society, the average survival rate for all malignant brain tumor patients is less than 35 percent. On top of that, the five-year survival rate of glioblastoma patients is only 5.5 percent.

Those who followed Senator McCain’s battle against glioblastoma know this unfortunate reality all too well. The senator’s diagnosis was announced in July 2017 and he passed on August 25, 2018.

“The more we discover, the more we can do to help patients and their families,” Catherine Ivy, president of the Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation, said in a press release. “Our Foundation has partnered with renowned medical and research programs throughout the United States and even internationally. After years of assessment, we have decided to invest in the Ivy Brain Tumor Center at Barrow. We think Barrow and the new Ivy Brain Tumor Center are our best bet.”

In order to identify possible life-saving drugs, Barrow conducted its Phase 0 trials to focus on treating glioblastomas.

“Phase 0 trials are the quickest route to identify individualized strategies for treating glioblastoma and our approach demands only a fraction of the time and costs associated with traditional drug research and development,” director of neurosurgical oncology Dr. Nader Sanai said. “With the Ivy Foundation’s grant and Barrow’s expertise in Phase 0 trialing, we believe glioblastoma will meet its match.”

The Ivy Brain Tumor Center conducts the “largest Phase 0 clinical trials program for brain tumor patients in the world” according to the center’s website.

For the trial, selected patients receive a matched experimental regimen the day before their brain tumor operation. Tissue samples are then collected during surgery and the team of researchers determines which regimens were successful in penetrating “the patient’s tumor and whether these agents have also effectively modulated the tumor’s biology,” as stated on the center’s website.

It explained further, “once the experimental regimen proves its ability to reach its target and undermine the tumor’s core programming, then the patient is ‘graduated’ to this chosen regimen at maximum therapeutic doses. Now, the tumor is finally under siege.”

The commitment of Barrow Neurological Institute’s Ivy Brain Tumor Center and the Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation to find a cure for brain cancer will give those who are suffering hope for a healthy future.

Sierra Ciaramella

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