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1.  Late effects in survivors of childhood CNS tumors treated on Head Start I and II protocols 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2014;61(9):1644-1672.
Background
Due to the devastating late effects associated with cranial irradiation in young children with CNS tumors, treatment for these patients has evolved to include the use of intensive chemotherapy to either avoid or postpone irradiation. While survival outcomes have improved, late effects data in survivors treated on such regimens are needed.
Objective
This multi-institutional study comprehensively describes late effects in survivors treated on the Head Start I/II protocols.
Methods
Survivors of CNS tumors treated on Head Start I/II protocols were enrolled. Late effects data were collected using a validated parent-report questionnaire. Social, emotional, and behavioral functioning and quality of life were assessed using parent-report on the BASC-2 and CHQ-PF50 questionnaires.
Results
Twenty one survivors (medulloblastoma=13, sPNET=4, ATRT=1, ependymoma=3) were enrolled. Ten (48%) were irradiation-free. Late effects (frequency; median time of onset since diagnosis) included ≥ grade III hearing loss (67%; 3.9 years), vision (67%; 4.1 years), hypothyroidism (33%; 4 years), growth hormone (GH) deficiency (48%; 4.7 years) and dental (52%; 7.1 years) and no cases of secondary leukemia. Irradiation-free (versus irradiated) survivors reported low rates of hypothyroidism (0/10 vs 7/11; p=0.004) and GH deficiency (2/10 vs 8/11; p=0.03). The BASC-2 and CHQPF-50 mean composite scores were within average ranges relative to healthy comparison norms. Neither age at diagnosis nor irradiation were associated with these scores.
Conclusions
Irradiation-free Head Start survivors have lower risk of hypothyroidism and GH deficiency. Secondary leukemias are not reported. With extended follow up, survivors demonstrate quality of life, social, emotional, and behavioral functioning within average ranges.
doi:10.1002/pbc.25064
PMCID: PMC4714700  PMID: 24789527
Head Start; CNS tumors; CNS tumor survivors; late effects; quality of life
2.  Prognostic Significance of Telomere Maintenance Mechanisms in Pediatric High-Grade Gliomas 
Journal of neuro-oncology  2014;117(1):67-76.
Background
Children with high-grade glioma, including diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), have a poor prognosis despite multimodal therapy. Identifying novel therapeutic targets is critical to improve their outcome. We evaluated prognostic roles of telomere maintenance mechanisms in children with HGG, including DIPG.
Methods
A multi-institutional retrospective study was conducted involving 50 flash-frozen HGG (35 non-brainstem; 15 DIPG) tumors from 45 children (30 non-brainstem; 15 DIPG). Telomerase activity, expression of hTERT mRNA (encoding telomerase catalytic component) and TERC (telomerase RNA template) and alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) mechanism were assayed. Cox Proportional Hazard regression analyses assessed association of clinical and pathological variables, TERC and hTERT levels, telomerase activity, and ALT use with progression-free or overall survival (OS).
Results
High TERC and hTERT expression was detected in 13/28 non-brainstem HGG samples as compared to non-neoplastic controls. High TERC and hTERT expression was identified in 13/15 and 11/15 DIPG samples, respectively, compared to controls. Evidence of ALT was noted in 3/11 DIPG and 10/19 non-brainstem HGG specimens. ALT and telomerase use were identified in 4/19 non-brainstem HGG and 2/11 DIPG specimens. In multivariable analyses, increased TERC and hTERT levels were associated with worse OS in patients with non-brainstem HGG, after controlling for tumor grade or resection extent.
Conclusions
Children with HGG and DIPG, have increased hTERT and TERC expression. In children with non-brainstem HGG, increased TERC and hTERT expression levels are associated with a worse OS, making telomerase a promising potential therapeutic target in pediatric HGG.
doi:10.1007/s11060-014-1374-9
PMCID: PMC4261223  PMID: 24477622
Pediatric; high-grade glioma; telomerase
3.  Recurrence patterns across medulloblastoma subgroups: an integrated clinical and molecular analysis 
The lancet oncology  2013;14(12):1200-1207.
Background
Recurrent medulloblastoma is a daunting therapeutic challenge as it is almost universally fatal. Recent studies confirmed that medulloblastoma comprises four distinct subgroups. We sought to delineate subgroup specific differences in medulloblastoma recurrence patterns.
Methods
We retrospectively identified a discovery cohort of all recurrent medulloblastomas at the Hospital for Sick Children between 1994-2012, and performed molecular subgrouping on FFPE tissues using a nanoString-based assay. The anatomical site of recurrence (local tumour bed or leptomeningeal metastasis), time to recurrence and survival post-recurrence were determined in a subgroup specific fashion. Subgroup specific recurrence patterns were confirmed in two independent, non-overlapping FFPE validation cohorts. Where possible molecular subgrouping was performed on tissue obtained from both the initial surgery and at recurrence.
Results
A screening cohort of 30 recurrent medulloblastomas was assembled; nine with local recurrences, and 21 metastatic. When re-analysed in a subgroup specific manner, local recurrences were more frequent in SHH tumours (8/9, 88%) and metastatic recurrences were more common in Group 3 and 4 (17/20 [85%] with one WNT, p=0.0014, local vs metastatic recurrence, SHH vs Group 3 vs Group 4). The subgroup specific location of recurrence was confirmed in a multicenter validation cohort (p=0·0013 for local vs metastatic recurrence SHH vs Group 3 vs Group 4, n=77), and a second independent validation cohort comprising 96 recurrences (p<0·0001 for local vs metastatic recurrence SHH vs Group 3 vs Group 4, n=96). Treatment with craniospinal irradiation at diagnosis was not significantly associated with the anatomical pattern of recurrence. Survival post recurrence was significantly longer in Group 4 patients (p=0·013) as confirmed in a multicenter validation cohort (p=0·0075). Strikingly, subgroup affiliation remained stable at recurrence in all 34 cases with available matched primary and recurrent pairs.
Conclusions
Medulloblastoma does not switch subgroup at the time of recurrence further highlighting the stability of the four principle medulloblastoma subgroups. Significant differences in the location and timing of recurrence across medulloblastoma subgroups were observed which have potential treatment ramifications. Specifically, intensified local (posterior fossa) therapy should be tested in the initial treatment of SHH patients. Refinement of therapy for Groups 3 and 4 should focus on the metastatic compartment, as it is the near universal cause of patient deaths.
doi:10.1016/S1470-2045(13)70449-2
PMCID: PMC3953419  PMID: 24140199
4.  MYELOABLATIVE THERAPY WITH AUTOLOGOUS STEM CELL RESCUE FOR PATIENTS WITH EWING SARCOMA 
Bone marrow transplantation  2008;41(10):867-872.
Summary
The aim of this study was to identify risk factors associated with progression-free survival in patients with Ewing sarcoma undergoing autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT); 116 patients underwent ASCT in 1989-2000 and reported to the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research. Eighty patients (69%) received ASCT as first-line therapy and 36 (31%), for recurrent disease. Risk factors affecting ASCT were analyzed with use of the Cox regression method. Metastatic disease at diagnosis, recurrence prior to ASCT and performance score <90 were associated with higher rates of disease recurrence/progression. Five-year probabilities of progression-free survival in patients with localized and metastatic disease at diagnosis who received ASCT as first-line therapy were 49% (95% CI 30 – 69) and 34% (95% CI 22 – 47) respectively. The 5-year probability of progression-free survival in patients with localized disease at diagnosis, and received ASCT after recurrence was 14% (95% CI 3 – 30). Progression-free survival rates after ASCT are comparable to published rates in patients with similar disease characteristics treated with conventional chemotherapy, surgery and irradiation suggesting a limited role for ASCT in these patients. Therefore, ASCT if considered should be for high-risk patients in the setting of carefully controlled clinical trials.
doi:10.1038/bmt.2008.2
PMCID: PMC3164955  PMID: 18246113
Autologous transplant; Ewing sarcoma; Progression-free survival
5.  High-dose carboplatin, thiotepa, and etoposide with autologous stem cell rescue for patients with previously irradiated recurrent medulloblastoma† 
Neuro-Oncology  2010;12(3):297-303.
Recurrent medulloblastoma is highly lethal in previously irradiated patients. Previously irradiated patients with M-0–M-3 recurrences who achieved a minimal disease state prior to protocol enrollment received carboplatin (Calvert formula with area under the curve = 7 mg/mL min, maximum 500 mg/m2/day) on days −8 to −6, and thiotepa (300 mg/m2/day) and etoposide (250 mg/m2/day) on days −5 to −3, followed by autologous stem cell rescue (ASCR) on day 0. Twenty-five patients, aged 7.6–44.7 years (median 13.8 years) at ASCR, were treated. Three (12%) died of treatment-related toxicities within 30 days of ASCR, due to multiorgan system failure (n = 2) and aspergillus infection with veno-occlusive disease (n = 1). Tumor recurred in 16 at a median of 8.5 months (range 2.3–58.5 months). Six are event-free survivors at a median of 151.2 months post-ASCR (range 127.2–201.6 months). The Kaplan–Meier estimate of median overall survival is 26.8 months (95% CI: 11.9–51.1 months) and of event-free survival (EFS) and overall survival are both 24% (95% CI: 9.8%–41.7%) at 10 years post-ASCR. M-0 (vs M-1 + ) recurrence prior to protocol, lack of tissue confirmation of relapse, and initial therapy of radiation therapy (RT) alone (vs RT + chemotherapy) were not significantly associated with better EFS (P = .33, .34, and .27, respectively). Trends toward better EFS were noted in patients (n = 5) who received additional RT as part of their retrieval therapy (P = .07) and whose recurrent disease was demonstrated to be sensitive to reinduction chemotherapy (P = .09). This retrieval strategy provides long-term EFS for some patients with previously irradiated recurrent medulloblastoma. The use of additional RT may be associated with better outcome.
doi:10.1093/neuonc/nop031
PMCID: PMC2940591  PMID: 20167818
chemotherapy; hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; medulloblastoma
6.  Myeloablative Chemotherapy with Autologous Bone Marrow Rescue in Children and Adolescents with Recurrent Malignant Astrocytoma: Outcome Compared with Conventional Chemotherapy: A Report from the Children’s Oncology Group 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2008;51(6):806-811.
Purpose
Children and adolescents with malignant astrocytomas recurring after initial treatment have a dismal prognosis, with only rare patients surviving one year beyond recurrence. The purpose of this study was to attempt to improve their survival.
Methods
Twenty-seven children and adolescents with malignant astrocytomas (17 glioblastoma multiforme and 10 anaplastic astrocytoma) following initial tumor progression, received myeloablative chemotherapy followed by autologous marrow rescue with one of three thiotepa and etoposide-based chemotherapy regimens, administered alone (n=11) or combined with carmustine (n=5) or carboplatin (n=11). Time to progression and death following myeloablative chemotherapy for these patients was compared non-randomly with outcome of a contemporaneously treated cohort of similar patients who received only conventional chemotherapy following initial tumor progression. The two cohorts were compared for age, histology, prior therapies, extent of surgical resection at progression and time from initial diagnosis to progression.
Results
Five of 27 children (two with glioblastoma multiforme and three with anaplastic astrocytoma) survive event-free from 8.3 to 13.3 years (median of 11.1 years) following myeloablative chemotherapy. Of 56 children with recurrent malignant astrocytoma who received conventional chemotherapy following initial progression, no patient survives. Differences in distributions of survival were not significant when stratified by surgical debulking (p=0.39). However, for patients who were surgically debulked, the survival distributions are significantly different (p=0.017).
Conclusions
Myeloablative chemotherapy with autologous marrow rescue can produce durable remissions in children and young adults with recurrent malignant gliomas, in the setting of minimal residual tumor burden achieved surgically.
doi:10.1002/pbc.21732
PMCID: PMC2844080  PMID: 18802947
Myeloablative chemotherapy; autologous bone marrow rescue; recurrent malignant astrocytoma

Results 1-6 (6)