Defeat GBM Research Collaborative Is Searching for Treatment Breakthroughs

The Defeat GBM Research Collaborative is an effort based around three broad ideas: five years, $10 million and a question.
 
BY BETH FAND INCOLLINGO @fandincollingo
PUBLISHED: AUGUST 10, 2017
By the Numbers: Progress Made By Defeat GBM - Image courtesy of Defeat GBM
By the Numbers: Progress Made By Defeat GBM - Image courtesy of Defeat GBM
The Defeat GBM Research Collaborative is an effort based around three broad ideas: five years, $10 million and a question.

The collaborative, a project of the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS), is asking why the development of treatments for the brain cancer glioblastoma (GBM) has been marked by “heartbreaking disappointments and achingly slow progress.” It’s using its funding and timeline to find answers to that question — data that could, in turn, lead to new treatments.

“The map of the genes that make proteins, and their alterations, in this cancer has largely been identified,” Paul Mischel, M.D., one of the collaborative’s leading researchers, said in an online statement. “So, one would expect or anticipate that this would actually make a difference in the lives of patients. But for a variety of reasons…that information has yet to really benefit patients,” said Mischel, a professor at the University of California San Diego and a lab leader at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in New York.

The collaborative aims to push past that notion to double the percentage of patients with “the most common, complex, treatment-resistant and deadliest type of brain cancer” who survive five years or more beyond their initial diagnosis.

Along with its subsidiary – Cure GBM, LLC – the NBTS plans to reach that goal by stimulating teamwork among top brain cancer experts. Rather than making grants to individuals, the organizations fund collaborative, multi-institution programs designed to move drugs from the lab to the clinic. Much of that work is being done by three institutions serving as contracted research partners: MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York; and the Ludwig Institute.

Within these programs, researchers are working to better understand how GBM tumors protect themselves against existing treatments and where their vulnerabilities are. They are creating better models of these tumors for use in laboratory study and then testing experimental drugs against them.
Now, at the halfway mark in its five-year plan, the society has issued a Defeat GBM progress report.

Overall Progress

So far, according to the June 27 report, the collaborative has:

*Identified 19 promising therapeutic targets;
*Isolated 16 existing drugs, drug categories, combinations or treatment approaches that deserve further exploration;
*Found nine new biomarkers that may help predict patient response to various treatments; and
*Generated more than 70 new lab models, known as stem cell lines and based on tissue from GBM patients, for use in preclinical drug screening.
“The Defeat GBM program is reaching a tipping point, with researchers nearing the juncture of moving a number of novel therapeutics into the clinical testing phase,” GBM Scientific Director W.K. Alfred Yung, M.D., a professor of neuro-oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center, said in a statement. “Our team is anxious and excited to continue our momentum and develop a multitude of potential new treatment approaches for patients in desperate need of new options.”



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