News on Glioblastoma Research in the first Bimester 2020

7 March 2020 0 By Roberto Pugliese

These days, we are all talking about is coronavirus and maybe we lose sight of diseases such as glioblastoma which in terms of numbers take away the lives of many more people every year. Just to rattle off some numbers, 108 people died on one of the worst days for coronavirus in China (February 10, 2020). But in one day, globally, 26283 people die from cancer, 49041 people die from cardiovascular disease, 4383 people die from diabetes, 2191 people commit suicide, mosquitoes have faced the lives of over 2740 people and on average 1287 people have killed killing violently from other people. Every year in Italy about 2000 people die from glioblastoma. Having said that if due to coronavirus the health system goes crazy many people suffering from these pathologies have their life at risk.

Having said that, for some time I was thinking of starting this project, that is, periodically reading (for example every two months) the news of the research on the possible treatments for glioblastoma multiforme. This is the first article of this project. Opinions, suggestions and advice are welcome because it is the only way to improve this kind of content. Here are the news that I found most significant. Each news item will be preceded by the original title with links to the source and followed by a short comment.

Cost-effectiveness analysis of the addition of bevacizumab to temozolomide therapy for the treatment of unresected glioblastoma. 
This is one of the problems that shake consciousness. The acceptability threshold for adding a year of life to a patient with Glioblastoma is about $ 30000 but adding bevacizumab (Avastin) to Temodar costs $ 170000 a year. In the end, it’s also a cost issue. We should be able to reduce the costs of very expensive treatments to give doctors the opportunity to choose the best option available.

Genome-wide CRISPR–Cas9 screening reveals ubiquitous T cell cancer targeting via the monomorphic MHC class I-related protein MR1
This is a preliminary-state research not directly related to brain tumors that could prove very important. It seems that this single T cell can be used to treat any form of cancer through immunotherapy without damaging normal cells. At present, efforts are being made to develop specific T cells for each specific type of tumor with considerable difficulties and costs.

Discovering the anti-cancer potential of non-oncology drugs by systematic viability profiling

It is a public resource for researchers. In this research 4518 drugs were tested to find out if they have anti-cancer properties. The data is available for free on their website (

Novocure Announces National Reimbursement in Israel for Optune® in Combination with Temozolomide for the Treatment of Newly Diagnosed Glioblastoma

Good news for brain tumor patients in Israel. The Optune device is now available with full coverage by the Israeli national health system!

GT Medical Technologies Announces FDA Clearance of Expanded Indication for GammaTile Therapy
GammaTile is now available for newly diagnosed patients as an FDA-approved treatment (US). According to the results of the research, it adds an average of 10 months of progression-free life in the various brain tumors (4 in the case of glioblastoma). These are wafers implanted at the time of the surgical operation that release radiation into the tumor site with limited side effects. On the Musella foundation website there is also a video of an interview with one of the doctors who created this treatment (

University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center treats its first glioblastoma patient with genetically modified poliovirus
This research reports an attempt to use a genetically modified version of the polio virus to treat a recurrent glioblastoma. The modified virus does not cause polio. Other centers in the past have also used polio virus as an oncolytic virus to treat glioblastoma.

Combination of ALA-induced fluorescence-guided resection and intraoperative open photodynamic therapy for recurrent glioblastoma: case series on a promising dual strategy for local tumor control.
This is an interesting attempt. We know how important it is for the prognosis to be able to remove as much tumor mass as possible to avoid recurrences. The ideal would be to remove every single cell. Gleolan (5-ALA) is a dye that is administered to the patient before surgery. During the operation, the surgeon uses a special light that highlights the tumor cells that tend to absorb the dye, facilitating the precise resection of the brain tumor. At this point, a laser is used which damages the remaining tumor cells that have absorbed the dye, making recurrence less likely. It could become common practice in surgical operations to treat glioblastomas.

DelMar Pharmaceuticals Announces Peer-Reviewed Publication of Interim Results of Phase 2 Clinical Trial of VAL-083 As First-Line Treatment in Newly-Diagnosed MGMT-Unmethylated Glioblastoma Multiforme

Val-083 is an experimental chemotherapy similar to Temodar which however works on a different part of the DNA of the tumor that the MGMT repair system cannot repair. Theoretically it should work on glioblastomas with MGMT methylation status not mitilated at least as Temodar works with tumors with MGMT methylation status mitilated. The study confirms the theory but is still too small in terms of the patients involved.

Poliovirus Therapy Shows Potential as Cancer Vaccine in Lab Studies

It is a new trial for the use of polio virus in the treatment of Diffuse Midline Glioma which is a new type of brain tumor with H3K27M mutation, very aggressive that attacks important brain functions.

Outside-The-Box Treatment Helps Teen With Aggressive Brain Cancer

We talked about this in the story of Sam Kell which shows the importance of testing each tumor by going to see what specific mutations are involved and looking for a specific personalized treatment.

Data Favor Max Resection for All Glioblastomas

It seems obvious but now there is scientific proof. It makes a big difference in terms of life expectancy to be able to have a complete resection. Ideally, as in the case of Salvo’s story, if the resection is total and fortunately it is possible to remove each tumor cell, the prognosis is favorable.

Brain cancer: An intelligent molecule to fool and kill glioblastoma cells
It is still a preclinical study but it seems that this molecule called ZR2002, administered orally, is able to penetrate the brain-blood barrier and delay the multiplication of the stem cells of glioblastoma which are considered very resistant and responsible for recurrences.

A Menu of Brain Cancer Treatments
This idea is potentially very interesting and consists in choosing the treatment or better the combination of treatments suitable for the specific type of glioblastoma and its specific mutations by administering the combination of drugs that has proven to be most effective in the different phases of the life cycle of the disease.

Deadly Ebola virus could be used against glioblastoma and other relentless brain tumors
Yale University researchers are trying to use a modified and non-dangerous version of the ebola virus to fight glioblastoma. The approach is similar to that of using other oncolytic viruses.

Glioblastoma Multiforme Treatment Market Set To Witness An Uptick During 2020-2030
In the end, even if it shouldn’t be, it is a matter of market. Pharmaceutical companies invest where there is potential for economic return. For this reason, rare diseases are problematic because the market is not yet of interest to pharmaceutical companies. These studies indicate that there will be strong market growth for the treatment of glioblastoma during the 2020-2030 decade which is bad because it means that the numbers of the disease are growing but also good because the pharmaceutical companies, now afraid of failure of several phase 3 trials, will have an additional incentive to invest in research in this area.

Organoid models for personalised treatments of glioblastomas developed
Organoids are being developed that can be used as models to quickly test therapies and apply them to patients by offering them personalized treatment. Creating organoids in the case of glioblastoma is particularly complex but now we are starting to get the first results as evidenced also by this article published on a local newspaper. 

And that’s all for the first two months of 2020. Who knows, maybe in a few years the coronavirus will be a memory or maybe it will be modified to make it harmless and used in some study to treat some serious form of brain tumor!