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Weill Cornell Cancer Center

Research and Clinical Trials

Several clinical trials are under way at the Weill Cornell Cancer Center to advance the care of patients with brain tumors. For example, neuro-oncologists and neuro-surgeons are evaluating a novel approach called "convection-enhanced delivery" to administer therapy via a catheter 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.

Find a clinical trial at the Weill Cornell Cancer Center.

Similarly, in a clinical trial, Weill Cornell Cancer Center neurosurgeons performed the world's first intra-arterial cerebral infusion of bevacizumab (Avastin) directly into a patient's malignant brain tumor. This novel intra-arterial (IA) technique may expose the cancer to higher doses of the drug therapy, while possibly sparing the patient from common side effects of receiving the drug intravenously. Bevacizumab works by inhibiting the development of blood vessels that tumors need to grow and spread.

The investigative procedure—called super selective intra-arterial cerebral infusion of Avastin—has been successfully performed on several patients, with promising results. Intra-arterial administration of the anticancer drug melphalan is also being investigated for patients with metastases to the spine from melanoma, colon, prostate, and breast cancers. These efforts have heralded the era of "interventional neuro-oncology."

Another clinical trial is assessing an approach called Novocure, in which patients wear a special "hat" that delivers alternating electrical fields as a potential treatment for glioblastomas. Working with engineers on Cornell's Ithaca, New York campus, neuro-oncologists are developing a special coil to deliver chemotherapy directly into the brain while bypassing the blood-brain barrier. Research is also under way to evaluate the effectiveness of targeted therapies for treating brain tumors.

The Weill Cornell Cancer Center is home to one of the world's leading centers for medulloblastoma research. This tumor of the cerebellum has become as common as acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children, but doctors do not yet know why. Investigators are collaborating to learn more about the biology of these tumors from laboratory and patient studies in an effort to find out how they develop and what makes them more likely to recur or become resistant to therapy.

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