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Brain Tumor News!

Note: The comments under each article title are the opinion of our president, Al Musella, DPM, and do not reflect official policy of the Musella Foundation!

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05/23/19 Supporters Take Steps Toward Brain Tumor Research        

 A huge thanks to Bruce Blount for organizing this yearly event for us.     It was at a gorgeous winery - my wife and I participated and had a great time!

The proceeds from the event will be used to help us fund a very special pediatric brain tumor research project!


05/23/19 FDA Approves the NovoTTF-100LTM System in Combination with Chemotherapy for the Treatment of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma        

 Even though this is not for brain cancer, I am sending it in the news blast because it involves the same technology as Optune. This shows it works for other types of cancer! Great to see tumor treating fields is applicable to other body parts!

05/23/19 No news is bad news for Tocagen        

The hysteria of the financial markets would be funny if it wasn't so serious.   Tocagen announced that the interim analysis result was that the trial will be allowed to continue to the final readout.  The money people took that as a failure and wiped out 1/3 of the value of the company in 1 day.  In reality, nothing changed and the chances of success are the same as they were the day before.  There are 3 possible outcomes to the analysis:


1. The data for Toca 511 is worse than for the control group in which case the trial would be stopped and declared a failure.


2. The data is so much better than expected that they stop the trial and try for FDA approval.


3. The data is about what is expected in which case they allow the data to mature so we get a good reading on how well the treatment works.


Keep in mind that we expect the immunotherapies (from experiences with other cancers) to work on a relatively small % of patients, but the benefit is that when they work, they usually work miracles and achieve long lasting benefits - something we just do not usually see with Glioblastomas.   I have already seen a few long term survivors from the early Toca 511 trials. 

This can result in the median survivals for the treatment group to actually be the same as that for the control arm - but the real benefit is in the long arm of the survivors.  The median survival is defined as how long the middle person in the group survived. In this case with 403 patients enrolled it would be the average of the patients who died number 201 and 202. The analysis was based on 193 deaths, so the median was not even reached yet.   It would have taken an unexpectedly large improvement to trigger a stoppage of the trial at this point.


In summary - this is NOT bad news. It is what was expected.  I still feel that the treatment is valuable and will get FDA approval.  Once it is approved, we can then easily experiment with ways to make it work better - in various combinations - so the majority of patients are helped. But before that happens, we still need to get each building block of the ultimate cocktail to get approved and be made available.






05/21/19 Volunteers help raise over $100,000 for brain cancer research at St. Paul 5K        

 A huge thank you to the volunteers who organized all of our fundraisers.  Fantastic job. We are going through a bunch of grant applications and will give out all of the money raised within the next few weeks!

Sad to say that due to a death in the family of the organizer, our Salt Lake City event set for this weekend has been cancelled and turned into a virtual event.  Visit the walk website for details.  Everyone who signed up for the event was notified by email, and anyone who wants a refund follow the directions in that email.

05/19/19 Latest ONC201 Clinical Efficacy to Be Presented in Oral Abstract Session at ASCO        

 Follow the links to see the 2 abstracts. Looks promising. When Oncoceutics had their webinar with us last week, they told me about the results but were not allowed to disclose them publicly until these abstracts were published.. so here they are!

05/19/19 Brain Tumor Awareness Month 2019 Webinar Series! Only 2 more webinars remaining this month!        

 These last 2 webinars are each focused on an individual treatment:

Tonight: Tocagen - this is an experimental gene therapy. Absolutely fascinating. Dr Gruber will explain how it works and how it can kill cancer cells without hurting the normal cells.  

Next Sunday: Gamma Tiles.  This is an FDA "cleared"  product - which means it is available now.  Very few people know about it yet.  This is a device that is implanted at the time of surgery into the cavity remaining after surgical removal of the tumor. It delivers radiation therapy to the tumor bed so it stops those cells from dividing.

05/17/19 AbbVie brain cancer drug fails late-stage study in another oncology setback        

 So sad to hear of another clinical trial failure of a gbm drug.  They did not release the details yetso we do not know if it is worth trying it in some other way or in combinations with other drugs yet.

05/16/19 Optune Open Houses        

 These meetings are for anyone who uses or is thinking of using Optune.  Most of these are live but there are some broadcast on the web!


05/15/19 New edition of the "Brain Tumor Guide For The Newly Diagnosed" is now available!        

 Our new edition is finally available!   Please let me know what you think of it.  Every chapter has been updated and we added about 15 pages.

05/14/19 Study touts new method to reduce cognitive side effects of brain cancer radiation treatment        

 This would be a huge breakthrough if it works. I love research like this and wish them well.

05/13/19 Brain Tumor Awareness Month 2019 Webinar Series! 2 more webinars in the next few days!        

The first 2 webinars in the series went very well and you can view them at


05/13/19 BMS’ Opdivo fails late-stage brain cancer test        

  There are many ways to use the checkpoint inhibitors.  This study shows that using Opdivo instead of Temodar during radiation for newly diagnosed is not helping.  This doesn't mean the drug is bad - just that it isn't being used correctly.  There are other trials going on that hopefully will show us how best to use this class of drug!

05/13/19 New edition of the Brain Tumor Guide For The Newly Diagnosed will soon be out!        

The new edition will arrive sometime this week! 

05/09/19 Medicare proposal to cover Optune for Glioblastoma        

 We need to fight this.  I will provide details next week!

05/09/19 Brain Tumor Awareness Month 2019 Webinar Series! 2 webinars in the next few days!        

 We have one this Sunday and Wednesday!  Both have excellent speakers.  Sunday is on Immunotherapies, Wednesday is on Onc-201 for DIPG and H3K27M mutant gliomas.

05/09/19 New Treatment Could Become First Targeted Therapy Designed For ‘Untreatable’ Childhood Brain Cancer        

 This is very early but it is an exciting new type of treatment for dipg.   The Musella Foundation is part of the DIPG Collaborative and helped fund this project!

05/09/19 Cancer Exports Molecular ‘Saboteurs’ to Remotely Disarm Immune System        

 This may be the missing link in understanding how the immune system fights cancer and why checkpoint inhibitors do not allwas work.  Excellent research and I hope someone tests this in brain tumors.

05/08/19 Oncoceutics Invited to Present ONC201 at Public Advisory Committee Meeting of the Pediatric Oncology Subcommittee of the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee on June 20, 2019        

 This is exciting for the drug Onc-201.  The meeting is not for approval but for the FDA to learn about the drug and help guide the process to approval.  This is not done for most drugs.   

05/05/19 Reminder: Webinar tonight Sunday 5/5/19 7PM Eastern!        

 Dr Ashley will be speaking about immunotherapies and specifically the Polio Vaccine and CMV vaccines at Duke!

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