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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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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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Thomas F. Barrett, Corey M. Gill, Brett A. Miles, Alfred M. C. Iloreta, Richard L. Bakst, Mary Fowkes, Priscilla K. Brastianos, Joshua B. Bederson and Raj K. Shrivastava

Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC) affects nearly 500,000 individuals globally each year. With the rise of human papillomavirus (HPV) in the general population, clinicians are seeing a concomitant rise in HPV-related HNSCC. Notably, a hallmark of HPV-related HNSCC is a predilection for unique biological and clinical features, which portend a tendency for hematogenous metastasis to distant locations, such as the brain. Despite the classic belief that HNSCC is restricted to local spread via passive lymphatic drainage, brain metastases (BMs) are a rare complication that occurs in less than 1% of all HNSCC cases. Time between initial diagnosis of HNSCC and BM development can vary considerably. Some patients experience more than a decade of disease-free survival, whereas others present with definitive neurological symptoms that precede primary tumor detection. The authors systematically review the current literature on HNSCC BMs and discuss the current understanding of the effect of HPV status on the risk of developing BMs in the modern genomic era.

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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.