A First Look at New Gene and Cell Therapies Targeting Glioblastoma

cancer cells
CRISPR-engineered therapeutic cancer cells tracking primary cancer cells in the brain
Red: Brain resident cancer cells
Green: Transplanted CRISPR-engineered cancer cells

Three members from the Department of Neurosurgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital were among the featured presenters at the 2021 World Medical Innovation Forum. Their “First Look” talks showcased promising new gene and cell therapies targeting glioblastoma and other tumors with unmet need.

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Promoting Support for Anti-Amyloid Alzheimer’s Therapies

Amyloid Plaques (Ab) and Neurofibrillary Tangles (tau)
Amyloid plaques (Ab) and Neurofibrillary tangles (tau)

For over three decades, Dennis Selkoe, MD, co-director of the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, has studied protein abnormalities that occur in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In the mid-1980s, he and his colleagues at the Brigham were among the first scientists to discover that neurofibrillary tangles associated with AD were made of the tau protein. In the early 1990s, he was instrumental in developing the amyloid hypothesis, which links excess amyloid β (Aβ) in the brain to the initiation of AD, and his lab made several discoveries supporting the concept.

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Advancing Care for Traumatic Spine Injuries

Spine X-Ray
This 27-year-old patient experienced a severe L2-L3 fracture/dislocation after hitting a tree in a high-speed downhill skiing accident. They were treated with L2-3 lateral interbody fusion and returned to full functional activity with no pain.

Treating patients with traumatic spinal cord injuries has significant challenges, in large part because of the potentially severe and life-altering effects these injuries can have. Despite recent progress in finding the best way to treat spinal cord damage, many patients are left with profound disabilities. Additional research, both in the lab and the clinic, is vital.

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Addressing Questions Related to Brain Health and Health Care Disparities After Hemorrhagic Stroke

brain scan

A team that includes investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston University School of Medicine is one of three multidisciplinary groups that recently received funding from the Henrietta B. and Frederick H. Bugher Foundation to develop breakthroughs related to hemorrhagic stroke. The over $11 million gift, which the American Heart Association is overseeing, aims to improve prevention, treatment and health outcomes for patients with intracerebral hemorrhage.

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Building Bridges Between Clinicians and Biomedical Engineers to Improve Clinical Care in Africa

illustration of globe and stethoscope

Many countries in Africa are facing a severe shortage of clinicians in many specialties, including neurosurgery. Although efforts are underway to train more young clinicians and expand access to neurosurgical care across the continent, another gap must also be addressed: the lack of collaboration between neurosurgeons and technical experts.

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Emphasizing Prevention in Alzheimer’s Disease Trials

alzheimer's researchFor most chronic diseases, improvements in care over the past few decades have resulted from early interventions that prevent disease progression. Brigham and Women’s Hospital investigators, along with collaborators at other institutions around the world, are applying a similar approach to the early detection and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

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Neuroendocrine Collaboration Focuses on Cushing’s Disease

brain imaging

Cushing’s disease, caused by a pituitary adenoma, is the most common type of endogenous excessive cortisol production and results in Cushing’s syndrome. This is a particularly challenging disease to diagnose and treat. Surgery to remove the pituitary tumors that drive the disease can bring it under control, but these tumors can’t always be completely removed. In addition, they frequently recur, even a decade or more after surgery.

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$14.5M Grant Awarded for Glioblastoma Research

close up of microscope

E. Antonio Chiocca, MD, PhD, chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and David Reardon, MD, of Brigham and Women’s and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, have received a $14.5M Program Project grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for his research on glioblastoma. These NCI grants support multidisciplinary research that addresses a major scientific objective. The highly competitive grants are only awarded to a few research programs every five years.

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Surgical Collaboration Treats Complex Spinal Deformities

surgeons

A unique collaboration at Brigham and Women’s Hospital is helping patients with scoliosis and other complex spinal problems reclaim their quality of life. The Adult Spinal Deformity and Scoliosis Program, led by co-directors Hasan A. Zaidi, MD, Melvin C. Makhni, MD, MBA, and Yi Lu, MD, PhD, is one of the very few in the country to bring together specialists in neurosurgery and orthopaedic surgery to treat patients through the entire continuum of care.

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$12.5M Grant to Develop Targeted Glioma Therapies

brain scan

At Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Tracy Batchelor, MD, MPH, chair of the Department of Neurology, has received a Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

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