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Kristopher T. Kahle, David Kozono, Kimberly Ng, Grace Hsieh, Pascal O. Zinn, Masayuki Nitta and Clark C. Chen

Our understanding of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common form of primary brain cancer, has been significantly advanced by recent efforts to characterize the cancer genome using unbiased high-throughput sequencing analyses. While these studies have documented hundreds of mutations, gene copy alterations, and chromosomal abnormalities, only a subset of these alterations are likely to impact tumor initiation or maintenance. Furthermore, genes that are not altered at the genomic level may play essential roles in tumor initiation and maintenance. Identification of these genes is critical for therapeutic development and investigative methodologies that afford insight into biological function. This requirement has largely been fulfilled with the emergence of RNA interference (RNAi) and high-throughput screening technology. In this article, the authors discuss the application of genome-wide, high-throughput RNAi-based genetic screening as a powerful tool for the rapid and cost-effective identification of genes essential for cancer proliferation and survival. They describe how these technologies have been used to identify genes that are themselves selectively lethal to cancer cells, or synthetically lethal with other oncogenic mutations. The article is intended to provide a platform for how RNAi libraries might contribute to uncovering glioma cell vulnerabilities and provide information that is highly complementary to the structural characterization of the glioblastoma genome. The authors emphasize that unbiased, systems-level structural and functional genetic approaches are complementary efforts that should facilitate the identification of genes involved in the pathogenesis of GBM and permit the identification of novel drug targets.

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Ali A. Alattar, Michael G. Brandel, Brian R. Hirshman, Xuezhi Dong, Kate T. Carroll, Mir Amaan Ali, Bob S. Carter and Clark C. Chen

OBJECTIVE

The available evidence suggests that the clinical benefits of extended resection are limited for chemosensitive tumors, such as primary CNS lymphoma. Oligodendroglioma is generally believed to be more sensitive to chemotherapy than astrocytoma of comparable grades. In this study the authors compare the survival benefit of gross-total resection (GTR) in patients with oligodendroglioma relative to patients with astrocytoma.

METHODS

Using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program (1999–2010) database, the authors identified 2378 patients with WHO Grade II oligodendroglioma (O2 group) and 1028 patients with WHO Grade III oligodendroglioma (O3 group). Resection was defined as GTR, subtotal resection, biopsy only, or no resection. Kaplan-Meier and multivariate Cox regression survival analyses were used to assess survival with respect to extent of resection.

RESULTS

Cox multivariate analysis revealed that the hazard of dying from O2 and O3 was comparable between patients who underwent biopsy only and GTR (O2: hazard ratio [HR] 1.06, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.73–1.53; O3: HR 1.18, 95% CI 0.80–1.72). A comprehensive search of the published literature identified 8 articles without compelling evidence that GTR is associated with improved overall survival in patients with oligodendroglioma.

CONCLUSIONS

This SEER-based analysis and review of the literature suggest that GTR is not associated with improved survival in patients with oligodendroglioma. This finding contrasts with the documented association between GTR and overall survival in anaplastic astrocytoma and glioblastoma. The authors suggest that this difference may reflect the sensitivity of oligodendroglioma to chemotherapy as compared with astrocytomas.

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Logan P. Marcus, Brandon A. McCutcheon, Abraham Noorbakhsh, Ralitza P. Parina, David D. Gonda, Clark Chen, David C. Chang and Bob S. Carter

Object

Hospital readmission within 30 days of discharge is a major contributor to the high cost of health care in the US and is also a major indicator of patient care quality. The purpose of this study was to investigate the incidence, causes, and predictors of 30-day readmission following craniotomy for malignant supratentorial tumor resection.

Methods

The longitudinal California Office of Statewide Health Planning & Development inpatient-discharge administrative database is a data set that consists of 100% of all inpatient hospitalizations within the state of California and allows each patient to be followed throughout multiple inpatient hospital stays, across multiple institutions, and over multiple years (from 1995 to 2010). This database was used to identify patients who underwent a craniotomy for resection of primary malignant brain tumors. Causes for unplanned 30-day readmission were identified by principle ICD-9 diagnosis code and multivariate analysis was used to determine the independent effect of various patient factors on 30-day readmissions.

Results

A total of 18,506 patients received a craniotomy for the treatment of primary malignant brain tumors within the state of California between 1995 and 2010. Four hundred ten patients (2.2%) died during the index surgical admission, 13,586 patients (73.4%) were discharged home, and 4510 patients (24.4%) were transferred to another facility. Among patients discharged home, 1790 patients (13.2%) were readmitted at least once within 30 days of discharge, with 27% of readmissions occurring at a different hospital than the initial surgical institution. The most common reasons for readmission were new onset seizure and convulsive disorder (20.9%), surgical infection of the CNS (14.5%), and new onset of a motor deficit (12.8%). Medi-Cal beneficiaries were at increased odds for readmission relative to privately insured patients (OR 1.52, 95% CI 1.20–1.93). Patients with a history of prior myocardial infarction were at an increased risk of readmission (OR 1.64, 95% CI 1.06–2.54) as were patients who developed hydrocephalus (OR 1.58, 95% CI 1.20–2.07) or venous complications during index surgical admission (OR 3.88, 95% CI 1.84–8.18).

Conclusions

Using administrative data, this study demonstrates a baseline glioma surgery 30-day readmission rate of 13.2% in California for patients who are initially discharged home. This paper highlights the medical histories, perioperative complications, and patient demographic groups that are at an increased risk for readmission within 30 days of home discharge. An analysis of conditions present on readmission that were not present at the index surgical admission, such as infection and seizures, suggests that some readmissions may be preventable. Discharge planning strategies aimed at reducing readmission rates in neurosurgical practice should focus on patient groups at high risk for readmission and comprehensive discharge planning protocols should be implemented to specifically target the mitigation of potentially preventable conditions that are highly associated with readmission.

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Aaron J. Clark, Joy L. Ware, Mike Y. Chen, Martin R. Graf, Timothy E. Van Meter, Wagner G. Dos Santos, Helen L. Fillmore and William C. Broaddus

Object

Wilms tumor 1 (WT1) is overexpressed in many human cancers, including glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). In another study, the authors showed that transient WT1 silencing increases the radiosensitivity of glioma cells. Studies of nonglioma cell lines have demonstrated that WT1 promotes cell proliferation and survival; however, this ability has not been rigorously analyzed in human GBM.

Methods

The authors tested the efficacy of 2 sequences of short hairpin RNA (shRNA) directed against WT1 in U251MG human GBM cells and found that 1 sequence was capable of stably silencing WT1 expression. They then evaluated the effect of WT1 silencing on cellular proliferation, invasion, and in vivo tumor formation.

Results

Stable WT1-shRNA expression significantly decreased the proliferation of U251MG cells in vitro as demonstrated by both an adenosine 5′-triphosphate–based viability assay and tritiated thymidine uptake. Furthermore, stable WT1 silencing caused significantly slower growth after the subcutaneous inoculation of tumor cells in the flanks of athymic nude mice and was associated with an increased latency period.

Conclusions

Data in this study provide proof of the principle that downregulation of WT1 causes decreased tumorigenicity of a GBM cell line in vitro and in vivo and suggest that WT1 is a promising target for novel molecular GBM therapies, perhaps in combination with standard treatment modalities.

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Mir Amaan Ali, Kate T. Carroll, Robert C. Rennert, Thomas Hamelin, Leon Chang, Brian P. Lemkuil, Mayur Sharma, Jill S. Barnholtz-Sloan, Charlotte Myers, Gene H. Barnett, Kris Smith, Alireza M. Mohammadi, Andrew E. Sloan and Clark C. Chen

OBJECTIVE

Therapeutic options for brain metastases (BMs) that recur after stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) remain limited.

METHODS

The authors provide the collective experience of 4 institutions where treatment of BMs that recurred after SRS was performed with stereotactic laser ablation (SLA).

RESULTS

Twenty-six BMs (in 23 patients) that recurred after SRS were treated with SLA (2 patients each underwent 2 SLAs for separate lesions, and a third underwent 2 serial SLAs for discrete BMs). Histological findings in the BMs treated included the following: breast (n = 6); lung (n = 6); melanoma (n = 5); colon (n = 2); ovarian (n = 1); bladder (n = 1); esophageal (n = 1); and sarcoma (n = 1). With a median follow-up duration of 141 days (range 64–794 days), 9 of the SLA-treated BMs progressed despite treatment (35%). All cases of progression occurred in BMs in which < 80% ablation was achieved, whereas no disease progression was observed in BMs in which ≥ 80% ablation was achieved. Five BMs were treated with SLA, followed 1 month later by adjuvant SRS (5 Gy daily × 5 days). No disease progression was observed in these patients despite ablation efficiency of < 80%, suggesting that adjuvant hypofractionated SRS enhances the efficacy of SLA. Of the 23 SLA-treated patients, 3 suffered transient hemiparesis (13%), 1 developed hydrocephalus requiring temporary ventricular drainage (4%), and 1 patient who underwent SLA of a 28.9-cm3 lesion suffered a neurological deficit requiring an emergency hemicraniectomy (4%). Although there is significant heterogeneity in corticosteroid treatment post-SLA, most patients underwent a 2-week taper.

CONCLUSIONS

Stereotactic laser ablation is an effective treatment option for BMs in which SRS fails. Ablation of ≥ 80% of BMs is associated with decreased risk of disease progression. The efficacy of SLA in this setting may be augmented by adjuvant hypofractionated SRS.

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Aaron J. Clark, Wagner G. Dos Santos, Jessica Mccready, Mike Y. Chen, Timothy E. Van Meter, Joy L. Ware, Sharon B. Wolber, Helen Fillmore and William C. Broaddus

Object

The WT1 gene is overexpressed in many types of human cancer. It has been demonstrated that Wilms tumor 1 (WT1) promotes tumor cell proliferation and survival in some cell lines by inhibiting p53-mediated apoptosis; however, this relationship has not been investigated in gliomas. The goal in this study was to characterize the expression pattern of WT1 in human gliomas and to determine if a correlation exists between WT1 expression and p53 status.

Methods

The authors screened nine malignant glioma cell lines, 50 glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) samples, and 16 lower-grade glial tumors for WT1 expression.

Results

Five of nine cell lines, 44 of 50 GBM samples, and 13 of 16 lower-grade gliomas expressed WT1 mRNA on reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis. Expression of WT1 was not detected in normal astrocytes. Two WT1 isoforms, +/+ and −/+, were expressed in the majority of these samples. Real-time PCR analysis of the GBM cell lines revealed that the level of WT1 mRNA ranged from 6.33 to 214.70 ng per ng 18S ribosomal RNA. The authors screened the GBM samples for p53 mutation by using PCR and single-stranded conformational polymorphism analysis, and they demonstrated an association between WT1 expression and p53 status. Tumors that contained wild-type p53 were significantly more likely to express WT1 than tumors that contained mutant p53.

Conclusions

The presence of WT1 in glioma cell lines and the majority of primary tumor samples and its absence in normal astrocytes support the suggestion that WT1 expression is important in glioma biology.

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Abraham Noorbakhsh, Jessica A. Tang, Logan P. Marcus, Brandon McCutcheon, David D. Gonda, Craig S. Schallhorn, Mark A. Talamini, David C. Chang, Bob S. Carter and Clark C. Chen

Object

There is limited information on the relationship between patient age and the clinical benefit of resection in patients with glioblastoma. The purpose of this study was to use a population-based database to determine whether patient age influences the frequency that gross-total resection (GTR) is performed, and also whether GTR is associated with survival difference in different age groups.

Methods

The authors identified 20,705 adult patients with glioblastoma in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) registry (1998–2009). Surgical practice patterns were defined by the categories of no surgery, subtotal resection (STR), and GTR. Kaplan-Meier and multivariate Cox regression analyses were used to assess the pattern of surgical practice and overall survival.

Results

The frequency that GTR was achieved in patients with glioblastoma decreased in a stepwise manner as a function of patient age (from 36% [age 18–44 years] to 24% [age ≥ 75]; p < 0.001). For all age groups, glioblastoma patients who were selected for and underwent GTR showed a 2- to 3-month improvement in overall survival (p < 0.001) relative to those who underwent STR. These trends remained true after a multivariate analysis that incorporated variables including ethnicity, sex, year of diagnosis, tumor size, tumor location, and radiotherapy status.

Conclusions

Gross-total resection is associated with improved overall survival, even in elderly patients with glioblastoma. As such, surgical decisions should be individually tailored to the patient rather than an adherence to age as the sole clinical determinant.

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Marlon G. Saria, Courtney Corle, Jethro Hu, Jeremy D. Rudnick, Surasak Phuphanich, Maciej M. Mrugala, Laura K. Crew, Daniela A. Bota, Beverly Dan Fu, Ryan Y. Kim, Tiffany Brown, Homira Feely, Joanne Brechlin, Bradley D. Brown, Jan Drappatz, Patrick Y. Wen, Clark C. Chen, Bob Carter, Jong Woo Lee and Santosh Kesari

Object

The object of this study was to determine the tolerability and activity of lacosamide in patients with brain tumors.

Methods

The authors reviewed the medical records at 5 US academic medical centers with tertiary brain tumor programs, seeking all patients in whom a primary brain tumor had been diagnosed and who were taking lacosamide.

Results

The authors identified 70 patients with primary brain tumors and reviewed seizure frequency and toxicities. The majority of the patients had gliomas (96%). Fifty-five (78%) had partial seizures only, and 12 (17%) had generalized seizures. Most of the patients (74%) were started on lacosamide because of recurrent seizures. Forty-six patients (66%) reported a decrease in seizure frequency, and 21 patients (30%) reported stable seizures. Most of the patients (54 [77%]) placed on lacosamide did not report any toxicities.

Conclusions

This retrospective analysis demonstrated that lacosamide was both well tolerated and active as an add-on antiepileptic drug (AED) in patients with brain tumors. Lacosamide's novel mechanism of action will allow for concurrent use with other AEDs, as documented by its activity across many different types of AEDs used in this patient population. Larger prospective studies are warranted.