Our neurosurgeons pioneered convection-enhanced delivery, a technique used to administer highly concentrated tumor-killing drugs via a catheter directly to tumors such as gliomas. The catheter is connected to a low-flow pump that administers just a few drops of a chemotherapy agent each hour. This pushes the drug through the space between the tumor cells – thereby avoiding toxicity, bypassing the blood-brain barrier, and delivering high concentrations of the drug directly to the tumor. Patients also avoid the side effects associated with intravenous delivery.
Our neurosurgeons performed the world's first intra-arterial cerebral infusion of bevacizumab directly into a patient's glioma, exposing the cancer to higher doses of the drug while sparing the patient from the common side effects of intravenous administration. Clinical studies are assessing this approach for delivering other drugs, such as temozolomide and cetuximab.
In collaboration with biomedical engineers, our neuro-oncology specialists are evaluating novel devices to deliver targeted therapy. NewYork-Presbyterian researchers were part of the team that assessed NovoTTF™, which delivers alternating electrical fields to treat glioblastoma. In addition, our neurosurgeons are working with biomedical engineers and biochemists to create new delivery techniques for brain tumor therapies.
NewYork-Presbyterian investigators have studied customized vaccines developed from patients' own tumor tissue, as a means of stimulating an immune response against the tumor. For example, the Oncophage® vaccine has been evaluated in patients with high-risk gliomas.
Brain tumors are molecularly complex. NewYork-Presbyterian features a robust translational research program designed to decipher the molecular underpinnings of brain tumors in an effort to identify potential new targets for therapy, especially for inoperable tumors. We are creating a tumor bank containing the molecular profile of each tumor – information which can be used to develop innovative targeted and individualized treatments.