In the news this week: some promising pre-clinical treatments, hope for Medicare patients who want to try Optune, a recommendation research strategies, and a doctor’s story about how one brain tumor patient changed his how he saw patients.
The federal agency that administers Medicare in the United States, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will consider whether they will pay for their patients to receive Optune treatment in the future. Optune is a medical device worn on the head that the FDA has approved as part of treatment plans for newly diagnosed and recurrent GBMs.
Supporters who think Medicare should cover Optune treatment can visit CMS’s Facebook livestream on March 6 and leave a comment.
Writing in the Washington Post, oncologist Jalal Baig shares how he entered medicine with the common belief that doctors should keep themselves at an emotional distance from their patients. His view evolved as he treated an astrocytoma (and later GBM) patient he called “Mr. C.”
Of learning to cry over a patient, he writes in the Post, “Instead of diminishing me as a physician, I am left with a more nuanced perspective on life, a greater appreciation for medicine’s fallibilities and boundaries, and a renewed commitment to my patients.”
An international panel of clincians and laboratory scientists convened by Cancer Research UK published a joint statement in Nature about the factors that make brain tumors so difficult to treat, with seven key factors that need more research and funding to achieve a cure. These include topics from changing how trials are designed, to better leveraging neuroscience research on healthy brains, to gaining a better understanding of the so-called “tumor microenvironment,” or how tumors steal body resources to feed and support themselves.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have found that by blocking the activity of a particular protein found in glioblastomas, a tumor will respond better to radiation therapy. The tumor, known as PTEN, often acts in GBMs to repair tumor DNA that has been damaged by radiation, reversing the effectiveness of this treatment. In a recent study mouse, the scientists found that if they deactivated PTEN, then radiation killed more tumor cells and the mice survived longer. “
“These findings are novel and provide a foundation to move forward with a clinical trial,” one of the researchers was quoted as saying to the UCSD News Center.