Clinical Neuro-oncology

Neuro-oncologists at the Brain Tumor Center treat adult and pediatric patients with primary malignant brain tumors of all grades, including both newly diagnosed and recurrent malignant tumors. The most common tumor type seen is glioblastoma multiforme. Strategies for maintaining local control of tumors after surgery include radiation therapy and medical therapy, as well as advanced imaging techniques to monitor the brain.

Our neuro-oncologists also seeks to improve survival for adults and children with malignant brain tumors through research treatment protocols that use novel agents and strategies based on basic and translational research. These protocols are developed within the Program and the UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center, at government institutions, such as the National Cancer Institute, and in collaboration with other academic research centers and industry. Some of the strategies currently under investigation include an innovative new brain tumor vaccine, anti-angiogenic therapies targeting the blood vessels that nourish brain tumors, and several combinations of novel chemotherapeutic drugs for both high-grade and low-grade glioma. New drug-delivery strategies, such as convection enhanced delivery, designed to bypass the blood-brain barrier and bring drugs directly to the tumor are also being evaluated.

The Division of Neuro-oncology is committed to performing studies of quality of life, fatigue, and the use of complementary medicine. A prospective study to establish baseline quality-of-life parameters for patients with high-grade gliomas is currently in development. Neuro-oncologists also work with members of the Division of Neuroepidemiology to evaluate population-based case series of adult patients with glioma in order to better understand how survival relates to factors such as personal and family medical histories, diet, smoking and alcohol consumption prior to diagnosis, and other demographic factors such as education. They also evaluate specific molecular characteristics of patients’ tumors to see if those characteristics can predict how certain patients will respond to a given therapy.

The Brain Tumor Center is currently funded by four major grants from the National Institutes of Health to support basic and clinical research for brain tumors. These include a Specialized Programs of Research Excellence award, a Program Project Grant, and two cooperative grants that fund consortia of institutions that conduct clinical trials for adults and children – the Adult Brain Tumor Consortium (ABTC) and the Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium. Two major private foundations, the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and the Pediatric Low Grade Astrocytoma Foundation, also support basic and translational research for pediatric brain tumors at UCSF.

The ABTC, which has its operations office at UCSF, is headed by Michael Prados MD, director of the Department’s Translational Research Program. The ABTC has enrolled hundreds of patients into phase 1 and phase 2 studies and is a national resource for the conduct of investigator-initiated clinical research. The majority of ABTC trials are phase 1 and early pilot phase 2 trials that are pharmacologically based with molecular correlates. Examples include trials of anti-angiogenic agents, small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors, and inhibitors of signal transduction. All of the ABTC trials, with few exceptions, permit new agents to be given to patients before surgical resection for specific analysis of tissue distribution and molecular “target” impact in situ.

To enroll in clinical trials for brain tumors or find out more information, call (415) 353-7500 or see our clinical trials page for a list of current trials.