DIPG/DIPT Discussion

brought to you by

Just One More Day for Love, Hope & a Cure

A searchable blog on DIPG research, DIPG news, recent publications, DIPG Foundations, DIPG researchers, clinical trials as well as other issues relating to Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Tumors- both Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Gliomas (DIPGs) and Atypical Pontine Lesions (APLs).

For parents, family and friends of children with DIPG looking for information and connection to others dealing with DIPG please check the buttons on the right hand side for resources.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

A New Era for Children with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma: Hope for A Cure?

"A new era for DIPG has just begun."

So starts the conclusion of this expert review article written last  year by two prominent DIPG researchers from the Netherlands- Marc Jansen and Gertjan Kaspers.   It will behoove one interested in DIPG research to be aware of those names.  They are ones that keep coming up in DIPG issues- publications and European DIPG worshops.   

These experts highlight that there has been a rapid increase in biological understanding of DIPGs.     This has only been able to occur because of the recent availability of DIPG tumor tissue which from  the French re-introduction of biopsies and the North American/Dutch focus on autopsy donation.  This DIPG tissue is critical to the further understanding of DIPG although biopsies and post-mortem tissue each have advantages and disadvantages.

The biopsy issues has been very controversial.   The French group has now preformed over 100 stereotactic biopsies with 0% mortality and a 4% transient morbidity.   An advantage of pre-treated biopsy specimens is that there is a significant risk treatment will change the original molecular characteristics.  The tumor that the children start with very likely is not the tumor molecularly that they die with.

Post mortem tissue carries a high risk of treatment-related genetic changes.   Still, there are advantages.   There is a much greater tissue volume available for study.   This also allows study on tumor hetergeneity (how varied the tumor is) as well as "treatment-resistent subclones".   In addition, it has been from these tumor donations that cell lines and animal models have been developed (greatly adding to research potential).

Even with this "avalanache of gene profiling studies" in DIPG, this will probably not provide the entire answer for cure.  There is at least one other prong to the problem.  The authors pose some thoughtful questions for consideration:
  • Why  are all chemotherapy regimens ineffective in DIPG while  some show activity in supratentorally located gliomas, such as  temozolomide?
  • Why does imatinib, an inhibitor of the  DIPG key target PDGFRA, not improve survival ? 
  • Could  poor drug distribution be at least partly the answer to these  questions?

The short answer likely lies in the blood brain barrier (BBB).  The huge hurdle BBB presents in DIPG will be a subject of future posts, but suffice it to say that we need better studies to investigate drug resistance and drug distribution as well as  new drug delivery options.

It is a new era.   There are researchers focused on understanding this tumor.   There has been a virtual explosion of clinical trials and publications.  There is excitement.

We are, though, at the beginning.    We have just gotten some of the tools to fight, --to understand , --to research, --to make a difference.  It is unlikely that the cure is around the next bend but research is finally moving for children with DIPG.   There is reason to hope that someday there might be a cure.

Note-  DIPG research at the VU University Medical  Center is financially supported by Stichting Semmy (Weesp, The Netherlands).

A new era for diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma: hope for a cure? 
Gertjan J Kaspers and Marc Jansen 
Pediatric Oncology and Hematology, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands Expert Rev. Anticancer Ther. 12(9), 1109–1112 (2012) 
Full Text:  http://www.brainlife.org/reprint/2012/Kaspers_GJ120900.pdf

Stichting Semmy-