Dr. Friedman, Duke researchers encouraged by continued progress

World-renowned neuro-oncologist Dr. Henry Friedman and his staff of researchers at The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University reported considerable progress related to the treatment of pediatric brain tumors. “Because of the support of The Rory David Deutsch Foundation, we are able to lead ground-breaking studies into therapies that will help children with brain tumors,” Friedman said. One of the therapies being studied involves a drug that is already making an impact in cancer treatment. “We found that a particular drug regimen had a positive response for adults suffering from recurrent malignant gliomas and now, with the funding from The Foundation, we have extended the research to children,” explains Friedman. Researchers at Duke found that the targeted-therapy drug Avastin, which has already been proven to be effective in the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer, combined with CPT11—a chemotherapy agent used to treat colorectal cancer—also works on adult brain tumors. In the last year Dr. Jeremy Rich of the Brain Tumor Center has found that, in the laboratory, this regimen should be effective in pediatric brain tumor cases as well.

Through the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium, Duke researchers opened a clinical trial to see how the drugs work on children. Unlike other drugs that need years of clinical trials and FDA approval, these two drugs have been studied extensively by doctors. The researchers’ eventual hope is that, rather than needing to approve entirely new drugs, the FDA will simply have to grant new uses for the drugs.

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