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Elizabeth B. Claus, Kyle M. Walsh, John K. Wiencke, Annette M. Molinaro, Joseph L. Wiemels, Joellen M. Schildkraut, Melissa L. Bondy, Mitchel Berger, Robert Jenkins and Margaret Wrensch

Significant gaps exist in our understanding of the causes and clinical management of glioma. One of the biggest gaps is how best to manage low-grade (World Health Organization [WHO] Grade II) glioma. Low-grade glioma (LGG) is a uniformly fatal disease of young adults (mean age 41 years), with survival averaging approximately 7 years. Although LGG patients have better survival than patients with high-grade (WHO Grade III or IV) glioma, all LGGs eventually progress to high-grade glioma and death. Data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program of the National Cancer Institute suggest that for the majority of LGG patients, overall survival has not significantly improved over the past 3 decades, highlighting the need for intensified study of this tumor. Recently published research suggests that historically used clinical variables are not sufficient (and are likely inferior) prognostic and predictive indicators relative to information provided by recently discovered tumor markers (e.g., 1p/19q deletion and IDH1 or IDH2 mutation status), tumor expression profiles (e.g., the proneural profile) and/or constitutive genotype (e.g., rs55705857 on 8q24.21). Discovery of such tumor and constitutive variation may identify variables needed to improve randomization in clinical trials as well as identify patients more sensitive to current treatments and targets for improved treatment in the future. This article reports on survival trends for patients diagnosed with LGG within the United States from 1973 through 2011 and reviews the emerging role of tumor and constitutive genetics in refining risk stratification, defining targeted therapy, and improving survival for this group of relatively young patients.

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Friedrich-Wilhelm Kreth, Niklas Thon and Jörg-Christian Tonn

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John H. Sampson

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Vanja Varenika, Peter Dickinson, John Bringas, Richard LeCouteur, Robert Higgins, John Park, Massimo Fiandaca, Mitchel Berger, John Sampson and Krystof Bankiewicz

Object

The authors have shown that convection-enhanced delivery (CED) of gadoteridol-loaded liposomes (GDLs) into different regions of normal monkey brain results in predictable, widespread distribution of this tracking agent as detected by real-time MR imaging. They also have found that this tracking technique allows monitoring of the distribution of similar nanosized agents such as therapeutic liposomes and viral vectors. A limitation of this procedure is the unexpected leakage of liposomes out of targeted parenchyma or malignancies into sulci and ventricles. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the efficacy of CED after the onset of these types of leakage.

Methods

The authors documented this phenomenon in a study of 5 nonhuman primates and 7 canines, comprising 54 CED infusion sessions. Approximately 20% of these infusions resulted in leakage into cerebral ventricles or sulci. All of the infusions and leakage events were monitored with real-time MR imaging. The authors created volume-distributed versus volume-infused graphs for each infusion session. These graphs revealed the rate of distribution of GDL over the course of each infusion and allowed the authors to evaluate the progress of CED before and after leakage.

Results

The distribution of therapeutics within the target structure ceased to increase or resulted in significant attenuation after the onset of leakage.

Conclusions

An analysis of the cases in this study revealed that leakage undermines the efficacy of CED. These findings reiterate the importance of real-time MR imaging visualization during CED to ensure an accurate, robust distribution of therapeutic agents.

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Margaret Wrensch, James L. Fisher, Judith A. Schwartzbaum, Melissa Bondy, Mitchel Berger and Kenneth D. Aldape

In this paper the authors highlight recent findings from molecular epidemiology studies of glioma origin and prognosis and suggest promising paths for future research. The reasons for variation in glioma incidence according to time period of diagnosis, sex, age, ancestry and ethnicity, and geography are poorly understood, as are factors that affect prognosis. High-dose therapeutic ionizing irradiation and rare mutations in highly penetrant genes associated with certain rare syndromes—the only two established causes of glioma—can be called upon to explain few cases. Both familial aggregation of gliomas and the inverse association of allergies and immune-related conditions with gliomas have been shown consistently, but the explanations for these associations are inadequately developed or unknown. Several bio-markers do predict prognosis, but only evaluation of loss of 1p and 19q in oligodendroglial tumors are incorporated in clinical practice. Ongoing research focuses on classifying homogeneous groups of tumors on the basis of molecular markers and identifying inherited polymorphisms that may influence survival or risk. Because most cases of glioma have yet to furnish either an environmental or a genetic explanation, the greatest potential for discovery may lie in genomic studies in conjunction with continued evaluation of environmental and developmental factors. Large sample sizes and multidisciplinary teams with expertise in neuropathology, genetics, epidemiology, functional genomics, bioinformatics, biostatistics, immunology, and neurooncology are required for these studies to permit exploration of potentially relevant pathways and modifying effects of other genes or exposures, and to avoid false-positive findings. Improving survival rates for patients harboring astrocytic tumors will probably require many randomized clinical trials of novel treatment strategies.

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Ian F. Parney, Sandeep Kunwar, Michael McDermott, Mitchel Berger, Michael Prados, Soonmee Cha, David Croteau, Raj K. Puri and Susan M. Chang

Object. Convection-enhanced delivery (CED) is a novel method for delivering therapeutic agents to infiltrative brain tumor cells. For agents administered by CED, changes on magnetic resonance (MR) imaging directly resulting from catheter placement, infusion, and the therapeutic compound may confound any interpretation of tumor progression. As part of an ongoing multiinstitutional Phase I study, 14 patients with recurrent malignant glioma underwent CED of interleukin (IL) 13—PE38QQR, a recombinant cytotoxin consisting of human IL-13 conjugated with a truncated Pseudomonas exotoxin. Serial neuroradiographic changes were assessed in this cohort of patients.

Methods. Patients were treated in two groups: Group 1 patients received IL13—PE38QQR before and after tumor resection; Group 2 patients received infusion only after tumor resection. Preoperative and postinfusion MR images were obtained prospectively at specified regular intervals. Changes were noted along catheter tracks on postresection MR images obtained in all patients. A simple grading system was developed to describe these changes. When MR imaging changes appeared to be related to IL13—PE38QQR, patients were followed up without instituting new antitumor therapy.

Conclusions. As CED of therapeutic agents becomes more common, clinicians and investigators must become aware of associated neuroimaging changes that should be incorporated into toxicity assessment. We have developed a simple grading system to facilitate communication about these changes among investigators. Biological imaging modalities that could possibly distinguish these changes from recurrent tumor should be evaluated. In this study the authors demonstrate the challenges in determining efficacy when surrogate end points such as time to tumor progression as defined by new or progressive contrast enhancement on MR imaging are used with this treatment modality.