Novel Brain Tumor Drug Treatment Available Exclusively at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center

Phase I NIH-Funded Study of Chemotherapy Drug Topotecan<br />Drug Delivered Directly to Brain Tumor, Bypassing Blood-Brain Barrier

Nov 23, 2004


As part of an ongoing Phase I NIH-funded study, brain tumor patients at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center are being treated with a novel chemotherapy treatment, in which the drug topotecan is administered directly into the brain tumor through catheters. Traditional intravenous chemotherapy cannot treat brain tumors due to limitations caused by the blood-brain barrier, which prevents drugs from entering the brain. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center is the only medical center worldwide where the treatment is available.

The study hopes to show that the treatment – called convection-enhanced delivery – is safe and effective, slows tumor growth, improves quality of life, and lengthens survival for patients with malignant and recurrent gliomas – a type of tumor that originates in the brain.

"Six patients so far have received topotecan and none have experienced any significant side effects," says Dr. Jeffrey Bruce, attending neurosurgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia and professor of neurological surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. The drug has previously been shown to reduce tumor size in animal and other laboratory studies.

With convection-enhanced delivery, developed in the mid-1990s by NIH researchers, a slow steady flow of chemotherapy builds up pressure in the brain, pushing the drug into the tumor and surrounding brain tissue. This allows for higher drug concentrations and better distribution of the drug into the brain.

Brain tumors that develop from brain tissue are rare, arising in 15,000 to 20,000 people in the U.S. every year, but they are extremely aggressive. According to Dr. Bruce, radiation and surgery may remove the initial mass, but the cancer comes back in nearly 100 percent of cases. Patients typically survive one to three years after diagnosis.

Other NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia physicians involved in the study include Drs. Guy McKhann, Michael Sisti, Casi Balmaceda, Robert Fine, Joanne Loughlin, Charles Hesdorffer, Peter Canoll, Stephen Sands, Robert DeLaPaz, and Truman Brown.

Topotecan is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, and is sold under the trade name Hycamtin®.

Study participants must have a single, recurrent malignant glioma tumor under 100 cc in size located in the cerebral cortex and have already undergone standard surgical or radiological treatment. For more information, patients may contact Joanne Loughlin at 212-305-7056.

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Columbia University Medical Center includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, and other health professionals at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, the School of Dental & Oral Surgery, the School of Nursing, the Mailman School of Public Health, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. The pioneering tradition of Columbia University health scientists, who achieved some of the 20th century's most significant medical breakthroughs, continues today.

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NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is the largest not-for-profit, non-sectarian hospital in the country. It provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory, and preventive care in all areas of medicine at five major centers: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian, the Allen Pavilion, and the Westchester Division. It consistently ranks as one of the top hospitals in the country in U.S.News & World Report's guide to "America's Best Hospitals." The NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System – an affiliation of acute-care and community hospitals, long-term care facilities, ambulatory sites, and specialty institutes – serves one in four patients in the New York metropolitan area.