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Gavin P. Dunn, Ovidiu C. Andronesi and Daniel P. Cahill

The characterization of the genomic alterations across all human cancers is changing the way that malignant disease is defined and treated. This paradigm is extending to glioma, where the discovery of recurrent mutations in the isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1) gene has shed new light on the molecular landscape in glioma and other IDH-mutant cancers. The IDH1 mutations are present in the vast majority of low-grade gliomas and secondary glioblastomas. Rapidly emerging work on the consequences of mutant IDH1 protein expression suggests that its neomorphic enzymatic activity catalyzing the production of the oncometabolite 2-hydroxyglutarate influences a range of cellular programs that affect the epigenome, transcriptional programs, hypoxia-inducible factor biology, and development. In the brief time since its discovery, knowledge of the IDH mutation status has had significant translational implications, and diagnostic tools are being used to monitor its expression and function. The concept of IDH1-mutant versus IDH1-wild type will become a critical early distinction in diagnostic and treatment algorithms.

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Pamela S. Jones, Daniel P. Cahill, Priscilla K. Brastianos, Keith T. Flaherty and William T. Curry


In patients with large or symptomatic brain lesions from metastatic melanoma, the value of resection of metastases to facilitate administration of systemic ipilimumab therapy has not yet been described. The authors undertook this study to investigate whether craniotomy creates the opportunity for patients to receive and benefit from ipilimumab who would otherwise succumb to brain metastasis prior to the onset of regression.


All patients with metastatic melanoma who received ipilimumab and underwent craniotomy for metastasis resection between 2008 and 2014 at the Massachusetts General Hospital were identified through retrospective chart review. The final analysis included cases involving patients who underwent craniotomy within 3 months prior to initiation of therapy or up to 6 months after cessation of ipilimumab administration.


Twelve patients met the inclusion criteria based on timing of therapy (median age 59.2). The median number of metastases at the time of craniotomy was 2. The median number of ipilimumab doses received was 4. Eleven of 12 courses of ipilimumab were stopped for disease progression, and 1 was stopped for treatment-induced colitis. Eight of 12 patients had improvement in their performance status following craniotomy. Of the 6 patients requiring corticosteroids prior to craniotomy, 3 tolerated corticosteroid dose reduction after surgery. Ten of 12 patients had died by the time of data collection, with 1 patient lost to follow-up. The median survival after the start of ipilimumab treatment was 7 months.


In this series, patients who underwent resection of brain metastases in temporal proximity to receiving ipilimumab had qualitatively improved performance status following surgery in most cases. Surgery facilitated corticosteroid reduction in select patients. Larger analyses are required to better understand possible synergies between craniotomy for melanoma metastases and ipilimumab treatment.

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Pamela S. Jones, Gavin P. Dunn, Fred G. Barker II, William T. Curry, Fred H. Hochberg and Daniel P. Cahill


The authors' goal was to review the current understanding of the underlying molecular and genetic mechanisms involved in low-grade glioma development and how these mechanisms can be targets for detection and treatment of the disease and its recurrence.


On October 4, 2012, the authors convened a meeting of researchers and clinicians across a variety of pertinent medical specialties to review the state of current knowledge on molecular genetic mechanisms of low-grade gliomas and to identify areas for further research and drug development.


The meeting consisted of 3 scientific sessions ranging from neuropathology of IDH1 mutations; CIC, ATRX, and FUBP1 mutations in oligodendrogliomas and astrocytomas; and IDH1 mutations as therapeutic targets. Sessions consisted of a total of 10 talks by international leaders in low-grade glioma research, mutant IDH1 biology and its application in glioma research, and treatment.


The recent discovery of recurrent gene mutations in low-grade glioma has increased the understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in a host of biological activities related to low-grade gliomas. Understanding the role these genetic alterations play in brain cancer initiation and progression will help lead to the development of novel treatment modalities than can be personalized to each patient, thereby helping transform this now often-fatal malignancy into a chronic or even curable disease.

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Juan Carlos Martinez-Gutierrez, Megan R. D'Andrea, Daniel P. Cahill, Sandro Santagata, Fred G. Barker II and Priscilla K. Brastianos

Craniopharyngiomas are rare intracranial neoplasms that pose clinical challenges due to their location adjacent to vital structures. The authors have previously shown high mutation rates of BRAF V600E in papillary craniopharyngioma and of CTNNB1 in adamantinomatous craniopharyngioma. These activating driver mutations are potential therapeutic targets, and the authors have recently reported a significant response to BRAF/MEK inhibition in a patient with multiply recurrent PCP. As these targetable mutations warrant prospective research, the authors will be conducting a national National Cancer Institute–sponsored multicenter clinical trial to investigate BRAF/MEK inhibition in the treatment of craniopharyngioma. In this new era of genomic discovery, the treatment paradigm of craniopharyngioma is likely to change.

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Bryan D. Choi, Daniel K. Lee, Jimmy C. Yang, Caroline M. Ayinon, Christine K. Lee, Douglas Maus, Bob S. Carter, Fred G. Barker II, Pamela S. Jones, Brian V. Nahed, Daniel P. Cahill, Reiner B. See, Mirela V. Simon and William T. Curry


Intraoperative seizures during craniotomy with functional mapping is a common complication that impedes optimal tumor resection and results in significant morbidity. The relationship between genetic mutations in gliomas and the incidence of intraoperative seizures has not been well characterized. Here, the authors performed a retrospective study of patients treated at their institution over the last 12 years to determine whether molecular data can be used to predict the incidence of this complication.


The authors queried their institutional database for patients with brain tumors who underwent resection with intraoperative functional mapping between 2005 and 2017. Basic clinicopathological characteristics, including the status of the following genes, were recorded: IDH1/2, PIK3CA, BRAF, KRAS, AKT1, EGFR, PDGFRA, MET, MGMT, and 1p/19q. Relationships between gene alterations and intraoperative seizures were evaluated using chi-square and two-sample t-test univariate analysis. When considering multiple predictive factors, a logistic multivariate approach was taken.


Overall, 416 patients met criteria for inclusion; of these patients, 98 (24%) experienced an intraoperative seizure. Patients with a history of preoperative seizure and those treated with antiepileptic drugs prior to surgery were less likely to have intraoperative seizures (history: OR 0.61 [95% CI 0.38–0.96], chi-square = 4.65, p = 0.03; AED load: OR 0.46 [95% CI 0.26–0.80], chi-square = 7.64, p = 0.01). In a univariate analysis of genetic markers, amplification of genes encoding receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) was specifically identified as a positive predictor of seizures (OR 5.47 [95% CI 1.22–24.47], chi-square = 5.98, p = 0.01). In multivariate analyses considering RTK status, AED use, and either 2007 WHO tumor grade or modern 2016 WHO tumor groups, the authors found that amplification of the RTK proto-oncogene, MET, was most predictive of intraoperative seizure (p < 0.05).


This study describes a previously unreported association between genetic alterations in RTKs and the occurrence of intraoperative seizures during glioma resection with functional mapping. Future models estimating intraoperative seizure risk may be enhanced by inclusion of genetic criteria.

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Matthew R. Strickland, Corey M. Gill, Naema Nayyar, Megan R. D'Andrea, Christian Thiede, Tareq A. Juratli, Gabriele Schackert, Darrell R. Borger, Sandro Santagata, Matthew P. Frosch, Daniel P. Cahill, Priscilla K. Brastianos and Fred G. Barker II


Meningiomas located in the skull base are surgically challenging. Recent genomic research has identified oncogenic SMO and AKT1 mutations in a small subset of meningiomas.


The authors performed targeted sequencing in a large cohort of patients with anterior skull base meningiomas (n = 62) to better define the frequency of SMO and AKT1 mutations in these tumors.


The authors found SMO mutations in 7 of 62 (11%) and AKT1 mutations in 12 of 62 (19%) of their cohort. Of the 7 meningiomas with SMO mutations, 6 (86%) occurred in the olfactory groove. Meningiomas with an SMO mutation presented with significantly larger tumor volume (70.6 ± 36.3 cm3) compared with AKT1-mutated (18.2 ± 26.8 cm3) and wild-type (22.7 ± 23.9 cm3) meningiomas, respectively.


Combined, these data demonstrate clinically actionable mutations in 30% of anterior skull base meningiomas and suggest an association between SMO mutation status and tumor volume. Genotyping of SMO and AKT1 is likely to be high yield in anterior skull base meningiomas with available surgical tissue.