Brain cancer is a mass of abnormal cells that is in the brain. Some forms of brain cancer spread far into normal brain tissue and are very resistant to current therapies. This poses a major challenge to successfully treating the cancer. Because of the vital importance of the brain in a person’s function, elimination with surgery of all the tumor cells from the brain is very difficult. In addition, the brain is protected from foreign substances circulating in the blood. Therefore, chemotherapy has significant limited benefits. Radio-therapy is a standard therapy for brain tumors, which, however, become resistant to this treatment. In addition, radio-therapy has many side-effects, especially in children.
Feinstein Institute researchers are making progress in identifying new treatments for two of the most common types of brain tumors, glioblastoma and medulloblastoma. Areas of active research include modulating the immune system to improve the therapeutic response in glioblastoma and identifying new therapies that can allow the use of lower doses of radiation in young children with medulloblastoma. In addition, new methods of how best to guide neurosurgeons during surgery with imaging devices are being tested in clinical trials.