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1.  Tumors of the Central Nervous System: Clinical Aspects, Molecular Mechanisms, Unanswered Questions, and Future Research Directions 
Journal of child neurology  2008;23(10):1103-1121.
Central nervous system tumors are the most common solid tumors in children. Many histological subtypes and biological variants exist. The 2007 Neurobiology of Disease in Children Symposium, held in conjunction with the 36th annual meeting of the Child Neurology Society, aimed to define current knowledge in the field and to develop specific aims for future clinical, translational, and fundamental science. Because of advances in structural and metabolic imaging, surgical technique, and combination therapies, the life expectancy of children with some of the most common tumors, such as cerebellar astrocytomas and medulloblastomas, has improved. Other common tumor types, including diffuse pontine gliomas and malignant embryonal tumors, still have a dismal prognosis. As novel therapies are identified for pediatric central nervous system tumors, long-term survival may be associated with considerable disability. A cooperative effort is crucial to early diagnosis and to translating basic research findings into safe, effective new treatments.
PMCID: PMC3674821  PMID: 18952577
2.  Survival and secondary tumors in children with medulloblastoma receiving radiotherapy and adjuvant chemotherapy: results of Children's Oncology Group trial A9961 
Neuro-Oncology  2012;15(1):97-103.
The purpose of the trial was to determine the survival and incidence of secondary tumors in children with medulloblastoma receiving radiotherapy plus chemotherapy. Three hundred seventy-nine eligible patients with nondisseminated medulloblastoma between the ages of 3 and 21 years were treated with 2340 cGy of craniospinal and 5580 cGy of posterior fossa irradiation. Patients were randomized between postradiation cisplatin and vincristine plus either CCNU or cyclophosphamide. Survival, pattern of relapse, and occurrence of secondary tumors were assessed. Five- and 10-year event-free survivals were 81 ± 2% and 75.8 ± 2.3%; overall survivals were 87 ± 1.8% and 81.3 ± 2.1%. Event-free survival was not impacted by chemotherapeutic regimen, sex, race, age at diagnosis, or gender. Seven patients had disease relapse beyond 5 years after diagnosis; relapse was local in 4 patients, local plus supratentorial in 2, and supratentorial alone in 1. Fifteen patients experienced secondary tumors as a first event at a median time of 5.8 years after diagnosis (11 >5 y postdiagnosis). All non-CNS solid secondary tumors (4) occurred in regions that had received radiation. Of the 6 high-grade gliomas, 5 occurred >5 years postdiagnosis. The estimated cumulative 10-year incidence rate of secondary malignancies was 4.2% (1.9%–6.5%). Few patients with medulloblastoma will relapse ≥5 years postdiagnosis; relapse will occur predominantly at the primary tumor site. Patients are at risk for development of secondary tumors, many of which are malignant gliomas. This may become an increasing issue as more children survive.
PMCID: PMC3534419  PMID: 23099653
chemotherapy; medulloblastoma; radiotherapy; secondary tumors
3.  Randomized Study of Two Chemotherapy Regimens for Treatment of Low-Grade Glioma in Young Children: A Report From the Children's Oncology Group 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;30(21):2641-2647.
Surgery is curative therapy for pediatric low-grade gliomas (LGGs) in areas of the brain amenable to complete resection. However, LGGs located in areas where complete resection is not possible can threaten both function and life. The purpose of this study was to compare two chemotherapy regimens for LGGs in children younger than age 10 years for whom radiotherapy was felt by the practitioner to pose a high risk of neurodevelopmental injury.
Patients and Methods
Previously untreated children younger than age 10 years with progressive or residual LGGs were eligible. Children were randomly assigned to receive carboplatin and vincristine (CV) or thioguanine, procarbazine, lomustine, and vincristine (TPCV). Children with neurofibromatosis are reported separately.
Of 274 randomly assigned patients who met eligibility requirements, 137 received CV and 137 received TPCV. The 5-year event-free survival (EFS) and overall survival (OS) rates for all eligible patients were 45% ± 3.2% and 86% ± 2.2%, respectively. The 5-year EFS rates were 39% ± 4% for CV and 52% ± 5% for TPCV (stratified log-rank test P = .10; cure model analysis P = .007). On multivariate analysis, factors independently predictive of worse EFS and OS were younger age and tumor size greater than 3 cm2. Tumor location in the thalamus was also associated with poor OS.
The difference in EFS between the regimens did not reach significance on the basis of the stratified log-rank test. The 5-year EFS was higher for TPCV on the basis of the cure model analysis. Differences in toxicity may influence physician choice of regimens.
PMCID: PMC3413276  PMID: 22665535
4.  Phase I Trial of MK-0752 in Children With Refractory CNS Malignancies: A Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium Study 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2011;29(26):3529-3534.
To estimate the maximum-tolerated dose (MTD), describe dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs), and characterize pharmacokinetic properties of MK-0752, a gamma secretase inhibitor, in children with refractory or recurrent CNS malignancies.
Patients and Methods
MK-0752 was administered once daily for 3 consecutive days of every 7 days at escalating dosages starting at 200 mg/m2. The modified continual reassessment method was used to estimate the MTD. A course was 28 days in duration. Pharmacokinetic analysis was performed during the first course. Expression of NOTCH and hairy enhancer of split (HES) proteins was assessed in peripheral-blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) before and following treatment with MK-0752.
Twenty-three eligible patients were enrolled: 10 males (median age, 8.1 years; range, 2.6 to 17.7 years) with diagnoses of brainstem glioma (n = 6), ependymoma (n = 8), medulloblastoma/primitive neuroectodermal tumor (n = 4), glioblastoma multiforme (n = 2), atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumor (n = 1), malignant glioma (n = 1), and choroid plexus carcinoma, (n = 1). Seventeen patients were fully evaluable for toxicity. No DLTs occurred in the three patients enrolled at 200 mg/m2/dose. At 260 mg/m2/dose, DLTs occurred in two of six patients, both of whom experienced grade 3 ALT and AST. There were no grade 4 toxicities; non–dose-limiting grade 3 toxicities included hypokalemia and lymphopenia. Population pharmacokinetic values (% coefficient of variation) for MK-0752 were apparent oral clearance, 0.444 (38%) L/h/m2; apparent volume of distribution, 7.36 (24%) L/m2; and ka, 0.358 (99%) hr−1.
MK-0752 is well-tolerated in children with recurrent CNS malignancies. The recommended phase II dose using the 3 days on followed by 4 days off schedule is 260 mg/m2/dose once daily.
PMCID: PMC3179253  PMID: 21825264
5.  Efficacy of bevacizumab plus irinotecan in children with recurrent low-grade gliomas—a Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium study 
Neuro-Oncology  2013;16(2):310-317.
A phase II study of bevacizumab (BVZ) plus irinotecan (CPT-11) was conducted in children with recurrent low-grade glioma to measure sustained response and/or stable disease lasting ≥6 months and progression-free survival.
Thirty-five evaluable patients received 2 doses (10 mg/kg each) of single-agent BVZ intravenously 2 weeks apart and then BVZ + CPT-11 every 2 weeks until progressive disease, unacceptable toxicity, or a maximum of 2 years of therapy. Correlative studies included neuroimaging and expression of tumor angiogenic markers (vascular endothelial growth factor [VEGF], VEGF receptor 2, hypoxia-inducible factor 2α, and carbonic anhydrase 9).
Thirty-five evaluable patients (median age 8.4 y [range, 0.6–17.6]) received a median of 12 courses of BVZ + CPT-11 (range, 2–26). Twenty-nine of 35 patients (83%) received treatment for at least 6 months. Eight patients progressed on treatment at a median time of 5.4 months (range, 1–17.8). Six patients (17.7%) still in follow-up have had stable disease without receiving additional treatment for a median of 40.1 months (range, 30.6–49.3) from initiating therapy. The 6-month and 2-year progression-free survivals were 85.4% (SE ± 5.96%) and 47.8% (SE ± 9.27%), respectively. The commonest toxicities related to BVZ included grades 1–2 hypertension in 24, grades 1–2 fatigue in 23, grades 1–2 epistaxis in 18, and grades 1–4 proteinuria in 15. The median volume of enhancement decreased significantly between baseline and day 15 (P < .0001) and over the duration of treatment (P < .037).
The combination of BVZ + CPT-11 appears to produce sustained disease control in some children with recurrent low-grade gliomas.
PMCID: PMC3895377  PMID: 24311632
bevacizumab; CPT-11; children; gliomas; recurrent
6.  Bevacizumab (BVZ)-Associated Toxicities in Children with Recurrent Central Nervous System (CNS) Tumors treated with BVZ and Irinotecan (CPT-11): a Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium Study (PBTC-022) 
Cancer  2013;119(23):10.1002/cncr.28343.
The incidence and spectrum of acute toxicities related to the use of bevacizumab (BVZ)-containing regimens in children are largely unknown. We report on the adverse events in a recently completed large phase II trial of BVZ plus irinotecan (CPT-11) in children with recurrent central nervous system (CNS) tumors.
Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium (PBTC) trial-022 evaluated the efficacy and toxicity of BVZ (10 mg/kg administered intravenously) as a single agent for 2 doses given two weeks apart and then combined with CPT-11 every 2 weeks (1 course = 4 weeks) in children with recurrent CNS tumors. Children were treated until they experienced progressive disease, unacceptable toxicity or completed up to a maximum of two years of therapy. Toxicities were graded according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE) version 3.0. Patients who received at least one dose of BVZ were included for toxicity assessment.
Between October 2006 and June 2010, 92 patients evaluable for toxicity were enrolled and received 687 treatment courses. The most common toxicities attributable to BVZ included grade I–III hypertension (38% of patients), grade I–III fatigue (30%), grade I–II epistaxis (24%) and grade I–IV proteinuria (22%). Twenty-two patients (24%) stopped therapy due to toxicity.
The combination of BVZ and CPT-11 was fairly well-tolerated, and most severe BVZ-related toxicities were rare, self-limiting and manageable.
PMCID: PMC3835419  PMID: 24104527
pediatric; bevacizumab; toxicity; central nervous system (CNS) tumors; clinical trials
Journal of neuro-oncology  2013;114(2):173-179.
High expression of ERBB2 has been reported in medulloblastoma and ependymoma; EGFR is amplified and over-expressed in brainstem glioma suggesting these proteins as potential therapeutic targets. We conducted a molecular biology (MB) and phase II study to estimate inhibition of tumor ERBB signaling and sustained responses by lapatinib in children with recurrent CNS malignancies.
Patients and Methods
In the MB study, patients with recurrent medulloblastoma, ependymoma, and high-grade glioma (HGG) undergoing resection were stratified and randomized to pre-resection treatment with lapatinib 900 mg/m2/dose bid for 7–14 days or no treatment. Western blot analysis of ERBB expression and pathway activity in fresh tumor obtained at surgery estimated ERBB receptor signaling inhibition in vivo. Drug concentration was simultaneously assessed in tumor and plasma. In the phase II study, patients, stratified by histology, received lapatinib continuously, to assess sustained response.
Eight patients, on the MB trial (4 medulloblastomas, 4 ependymomas), received a median of 2 courses (range: 1–6+). No intratumoral target inhibition by lapatinib was noted in any patient. Tumor-to-plasma ratios of lapatinib were 10–20%. In the 34 patients (14 MB, 10 HGG, 10 ependymoma) in the phase II study, lapatinib was well-tolerated at 900 mg/m2/dose bid. The median number of courses in the phase II trial was 2 (range 1–12). Seven patients (3 medulloblastoma, 4 ependymoma) remained on therapy for at least 4 courses range (4–26).
Lapatinib was well-tolerated in children with recurrent or CNS malignancies, but did not inhibit target in tumor and had little single agent activity.
PMCID: PMC4246636  PMID: 23836190
Lapatinib; medulloblastoma; high-grade glioma; phase II trial
8.  Phase-I study of vismodegib in children with recurrent or refractory medulloblastoma: a Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium (PBTC) study 
To investigate the safety, dose-limiting toxicities, and pharmacokinetics of the smoothened inhibitor vismodegib in children with refractory or relapsed medulloblastoma.
Patients and Methods
Initially, vismodegib was administered daily at 85 mg/m2 and escalated to 170 mg/m2. The study was then revised to investigate a flat-dosing schedule of 150 mg for patients with small body surface area (BSA, 0.67–1.32 m2) or 300 mg for those who were larger (BSA, 1.33–2.20 m2). Pharmacokinetics were performed during the first course of therapy, and the right knees of all patients were imaged to monitor bone toxicity. Immunohistochemical analysis was done to identify patients with SHH-subtype medulloblastoma.
Thirteen eligible patients were enrolled on the initial study: 6 received 85 mg/m2 vismodegib, and 7 received 170 mg/m2. Twenty eligible patients were enrolled on the flat-dosing part of the study: 10 at each dosage level. Three dose-limiting toxicities were observed, but no drug-related bone toxicity was documented. The median (range) vismodegib penetration in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) was 0.53 (0.26–0.78), when expressed as a ratio of the concentration of vismodegib in the CSF to that of the unbound drug in plasma. Antitumor activity was seen in 1 of 3 patients with SHH-subtype disease whose tumors were evaluable and in none of the patients in the other subgroups.
Vismodegib was well tolerated in children with recurrent or refractory medulloblastoma; only 2 dose-limiting toxicities were observed with flat dosing. The recommended Phase-II study dose is 150 mg or 300 mg, depending on the patient’s BSA.
PMCID: PMC3856244  PMID: 24077351
9.  Recurrence patterns across medulloblastoma subgroups: an integrated clinical and molecular analysis 
The lancet oncology  2013;14(12):1200-1207.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3953419  PMID: 24140199
10.  Children's Oncology Group's 2013 Blueprint for Research: Central Nervous System Tumors 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2012;60(6):1022-1026.
In the US, approximately 2,500 children are diagnosed annually with brain tumors. Their survival ranges from >90% to <10%. For children with medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor, 5-year survival ranges from >80% (standard-risk) to 60% (high-risk). For those with high-grade gliomas (HGGs) including diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas, 5-year survival remains <10%. Sixty-five percent patients with ependymoma are cured after surgery and radiation therapy depending on the degree of resection and histopathology of the tumor. Phase II trials for brain tumors will investigate agents that act on cMET, PDGFRA, or EZH2 in HGG, DIPG, or medulloblastoma, respectively. Phase III trials will explore risk-based therapy stratification guided by molecular and clinical traits of children with medulloblastoma or ependymoma.
PMCID: PMC4184243  PMID: 23255213
ependymoma; high-grade glioma and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma; medulloblastoma
11.  Ganglion Cell Layer–Inner Plexiform Layer Thickness and Vision Loss in Young Children With Optic Pathway Gliomas 
To determine if measures of macular ganglion cell layer–inner plexiform layer (GCL-IPL) thickness can discriminate between children with and without vision loss (visual acuity or field) from their optic pathway glioma (OPG) using spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT).
Children with OPGs (sporadic or secondary to neurofibromatosis type 1) enrolled in a prospective study of SD-OCT were included if they were cooperative for vision testing and macular SD-OCT images were acquired. Manual segmentation of the macular GCL-IPL and macular retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) was performed using elliptical annuli with diameters of 1.5, 3.0, and 4.5 mm. Logistic regression assessed the ability of GCL-IPL and RNFL thickness measures (micrometers) to differentiate between the normal and abnormal vision groups.
Forty-seven study eyes (normal vision = 31, abnormal vision = 16) from 26 children with OPGs were included. Median age was 5.3 years (range, 2.5–12.8). Thickness of all GCL-IPL and RNFL quadrants differed between the normal and abnormal vision groups (P < 0.01). All GCL-IPL measures demonstrated excellent discrimination between groups (area under the curve [AUC] > 0.90 for all diameters). Using the lower fifth percentile threshold, the number of abnormal GCL-IPL inner macula (3.0 mm) quadrants achieved the highest AUC (0.989) and was greater than the macula RNFL AUCs (P < 0.05).
Decreased GCL-IPL thickness (
SD-OCT measures of macular ganglion cell layer-inner plexiform layer thickness were able to discriminate between children with and without vision loss from their optic pathway glioma.
PMCID: PMC3954001  PMID: 24519429
OCT; optic pathway glioma; pediatric; ganglion cell; neurofibromatosis type 1
The neurofibromatoses (NF) are autosomal dominant genetic disorders that encompass the rare diseases NF1, NF2, and schwannomatosis. The NFs affect more people worldwide than Duchenne muscular dystrophy and Huntington's disease combined. NF1 and NF2 are caused by mutations of known tumor suppressor genes (NF1 and NF2, respectively). For schwannomatosis, although mutations in SMARCB1 were identified in a subpopulation of schwannomatosis patients, additional causative gene mutations are still to be discovered. Individuals with NF1 may demonstrate manifestations in multiple organ systems, including tumors of the nervous system, learning disabilities, and physical disfigurement. NF2 ultimately can cause deafness, cranial nerve deficits, and additional severe morbidities caused by tumors of the nervous system. Unmanageable pain is a key finding in patients with schwannomatosis. Although today there is no marketed treatment for NF-related tumors, a significant number of clinical trials have become available. In addition, significant preclinical efforts have led to a more rational selection of potential drug candidates for NF trials. An important element in fueling this progress is the sharing of knowledge. For over 20 years the Children's Tumor Foundation has convened an annual NF Conference, bringing together NF professionals to share novel findings, ideas, and build collaborations. The 2012 NF Conference held in New Orleans hosted over 350 NF researchers and clinicians. This article provides a synthesis of the highlights presented at the conference and as such, is a “state-of-the-field” for NF research in 2012.
PMCID: PMC4150212  PMID: 24443315
neurofibromatosis type 1; neurofibromatosis type 2; NF1; NF2; schwannomatosis; tumor suppressor; SMARCB1; merlin neurofibromin; preclinical models
Nature reviews. Neurology  2012;8(10):539-540.
The understanding and treatment of medulloblastoma, the most common childhood malignant brain tumour, is rapidly evolving. Three complementary deep-sequencing studies that were recently published in Nature add to our knowledge of this disease, further refine risk stratification, and identify potential druggable targets.
PMCID: PMC4147946  PMID: 22986433
The RASopathies, one of the largest groups of multiple congenital anomaly syndromes known, are caused by germline mutations in various genes encoding components of the Ras/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. The RASopathies have many overlapping characteristics, including craniofacial manifestations, cardiac malformations, cutaneous, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, and ocular abnormalities, neurocognitive impairment, hypotonia, and an increased risk of developing cancer. Costello syndrome (CS) and cardio-facio-cutaneous (CFC) syndrome are two of the more rare RASopathies. CS is caused by activating mutations in HRAS, and CFC is caused by dysregulation of signaling in the Ras/MAPK pathway due to mutations in BRAF, MEK1, or MEK2. The Ras/MAPK pathway, which has been well-studied in cancer, is an attractive target for inhibition in the treatment of various malignancies utilizing small molecule therapeutics that specifically inhibit the pathway. With many inhibitors of the Ras/MAPK pathway in clinical trials, the notion of using these molecules to ameliorate developmental defects in CS and CFC is under consideration. CS and CFC, like other syndromes in their class, have a progressive phenotype and may be amenable to inhibition or normalization of signaling.
PMCID: PMC4145816  PMID: 21495172
BRAF inhibitor; cardio-facio-cutaneous syndrome; clinical trial; Costello syndrome; farnesyl transferase inhibitor; MEK inhibitor; neurofibromatosis type 1; Ras/MAPK; RASopathy; signal transduction pathway; therapy
Cancer letters  2013;335(2):361-371.
Oligodendrogliomas originate from oligodendrocyte progenitor (OPs), whose development is regulated by the Sonic hedgehog and Wnt/beta-catenin pathways. We investigated the contribution of these pathways in the proliferation and differentiation of human oligodendroglioma cells (HOG). Inhibition of Hedgehog signaling with cyclopamine decreased cell survival and increased phosphorylated beta-catenin without altering myelin protein levels. Conversely, treatment of HOG with the Wnt antagonist secreted Frizzled Related Protein (SFRP1), led to increased myelin protein levels and reduced cell proliferation, suggesting cell cycle arrest and differentiation. Unlike normal primary human OPs, beta-catenin in HOG cells is not associated with endogenous Sox17 protein despite high levels of both proteins. Retroviral overexpression of recombinant Sox17 increased HOG cell cycle exit and apoptosis, and raised myelin protein levels and the percentage of O4+ cells, indicating increased differentiation. Recombinant Sox17 also increased beta-catenin-TCF4-Sox17 complex formation and decreased total cellular levels of beta-catenin. These changes were associated with increased SFRP1, and reduced expression of Wnt-1 and Frizzled-1,−3 and −7 RNA, indicating that Sox17 induced a Hedgehog target, and regulated Wnt signaling at multiple levels. Our studies indicate that Wnt signaling regulates HOG cell cycle arrest and differentiation, and that recombinant Sox17 mediates modulation of the Wnt pathway through changes in beta-catenin, SFRP1 and Wnt/Frizzled expression. Our results thus identify Sox17 as a potential molecular target to include in HOG therapeutic strategies.
PMCID: PMC3669657  PMID: 23474492
Sonic hedgehog; Wnt; Sox17; oligodendrocyte progenitor; cell cycle
The impact of childhood cranial radiation therapy (CRT) on stroke risk in adulthood, and the role of modifiable atherosclerotic risk factors, remains poorly defined. We assessed long-term incidence rates and stroke risk factors in survivors of childhood cancer followed by the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS).
Patients and Methods
CCSS is a multi-institutional retrospective cohort study of 14,358 five-year survivors of childhood cancer and 4,023 randomly selected sibling controls with longitudinal follow up. Age-adjusted incidence rates of self-reported late-occurring (≥ 5 years after diagnosis) first-stroke were calculated. Multivariable Cox Proportional Hazards models were used to identify independent stroke predictors.
During a mean follow-up of 23.3 years, 292 survivors reported a late-occurring stroke. The age-adjusted stroke rate per 100,000 person-years was 77 (95% Confidence Interval [CI] 62–96) compared to 9.3 (95% CI 4–23) for siblings. Treatment with CRT increased stroke risk in a dose dependent manner: hazard ratio (HR) 5.9 (95% CI 3.5–9.9) for 30–49 Gy CRT, and 11.0 (7.4–17.0) for 50+ Gy CRT. The cumulative stroke incidence in survivors treated with 50+ Gy CRT was 1.1% (95% CI 0.4–1.8) at 10 years post-diagnosis and 12% (95% CI 8.9–15.0) at 30 years. Hypertension (HTN) increased stroke hazard by 4-fold (95% CI 2.8–5.5) and in black survivors by 16-fold (95% CI 6.9–36.6).
Young adult pediatric cancer survivors have an increased stroke risk that is associated with CRT in a dose dependent manner. Atherosclerotic risk factors enhanced this risk and should be treated aggressively.
PMCID: PMC3696633  PMID: 23680033
The RASopathies are a group of genetic syndromes caused by germline mutations in genes that encode components of the Ras/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. Some of these syndromes are neurofibromatosis type 1, Noonan syndrome, Costello syndrome, cardio-facio-cutaneous syndrome, LEOPARD syndrome and Legius syndrome. Their common underlying pathogenetic mechanism brings about significant overlap in phenotypic features and includes craniofacial dysmorphology, cardiac, cutaneous, musculoskeletal, GI and ocular abnormalities, and a predisposition to cancer. The proceedings from the symposium “Genetic Syndromes of the Ras/MAPK Pathway: From Bedside to Bench and Back” chronicle the timely and typical research symposium which brought together clinicians, basic scientists, physician-scientists, advocate leaders, trainees, students and individuals with Ras syndromes and their families. The goals, to discuss basic science and clinical issues, to set forth a solid framework for future research, to direct translational applications towards therapy and to set forth best practices for individuals with RASopathies was successfully meet with a commitment to begin to move towards clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC4051786  PMID: 20014119
Cardio-facio-cutaneous syndrome; clinical trial; Costello syndrome; neurofibromatosis type 1; Noonan syndrome; Legius syndrome; Ras/MAPK; signal transduction pathway; RASopathies; therapy
Acta neuropathologica  2012;123(5):727-738.
Patients with ependymoma exhibit a wide range of clinical outcomes that is currently unexplained by clinical or histological factors. Little is known regarding molecular biomarkers that could predict clinical behavior. Since recent data suggests that these tumors display biological characteristics according to their location (cerebral vs. infratentorial vs. spinal cord), rather than explore a broad spectrum of ependymoma, we focused on molecular alterations in ependymomas arising in the infratentorial compartment. Unsupervised clustering of available gene expression microarray data revealed two major subgroups of infratentorial ependymoma. Group 1 tumors over expressed genes that were associated with mesenchyme, Group 2 tumors showed no distinct gene ontologies. To assess the prognostic significance of these gene expression subgroups, real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction assays were performed on genes defining the subgroups in a training set. This resulted in a 10-gene prognostic signature. Multivariate analysis showed that the 10-gene signature was an independent predictor of recurrence-free survival after adjusting for clinical factors. Evaluation of an external dataset describing subgroups of infratentorial ependymomas showed concordance of subgroup definition, including validation of the mesenchymal subclass. Importantly, the 10-gene signature was validated as a predictor of recurrence-free survival in this dataset. Taken together, the results indicate a link between clinical outcome and biologically-identified subsets of infratentorial ependymoma and offer the potential for prognostic testing to estimate clinical aggressiveness in these tumors.
PMCID: PMC4013829  PMID: 22322993
Infratentorial ependymoma; Expression profiling; Gene expression signature; Prognostic genes; Microarray; Biomarker
The neurofibromatoses (neurofibromatosis type 1, NF1 and neurofibromatosis type 2, NF2) comprise the most common inherited conditions in which affected children and adults develop tumors of the central and peripheral nervous system. In this review, the authors discuss how the establishment of the Neurofibromatosis Clinical Trials Consortium (NFCTC) has positively impacted on the design and execution of treatment studies for individuals with NF1 and NF2.
Areas covered
Using an extensive PUBMED search in collaboration with select NFCTC members expert in distinct NF topics, the authors discuss the clinical features of NF1 and NF2, the molecular biology of the NF1 and NF2 genes, the development and application of clinically relevant Nf1 and Nf2 genetically engineered mouse models and the formation of the NFCTC to enable efficient clinical trial design and execution.
Expert opinion
The NFCTC has resulted in a more seamless integration of mouse preclinical and human clinical trials efforts. Leveraging emerging enabling resources, current research is focused on identifying subtypes of tumors in NF1 and NF2 to deliver the most active compounds to the patients most likely to respond to the targeted therapy.
PMCID: PMC4009992  PMID: 23425047
clinical trials; mouse models; NF1; NF2; preclinical
Acta Neuropathologica  2013;127(2):189-201.
Medulloblastoma is curable in approximately 70 % of patients. Over the past decade, progress in improving survival using conventional therapies has stalled, resulting in reduced quality of life due to treatment-related side effects, which are a major concern in survivors. The vast amount of genomic and molecular data generated over the last 5–10 years encourages optimism that improved risk stratification and new molecular targets will improve outcomes. It is now clear that medulloblastoma is not a single-disease entity, but instead consists of at least four distinct molecular subgroups: WNT/Wingless, Sonic Hedgehog, Group 3, and Group 4. The Medulloblastoma Down Under 2013 meeting, which convened at Bunker Bay, Australia, brought together 50 leading clinicians and scientists. The 2-day agenda included focused sessions on pathology and molecular stratification, genomics and mouse models, high-throughput drug screening, and clinical trial design. The meeting established a global action plan to translate novel biologic insights and drug targeting into treatment regimens to improve outcomes. A consensus was reached in several key areas, with the most important being that a novel classification scheme for medulloblastoma based on the four molecular subgroups, as well as histopathologic features, should be presented for consideration in the upcoming fifth edition of the World Health Organization’s classification of tumours of the central nervous system. Three other notable areas of agreement were as follows: (1) to establish a central repository of annotated mouse models that are readily accessible and freely available to the international research community; (2) to institute common eligibility criteria between the Children’s Oncology Group and the International Society of Paediatric Oncology Europe and initiate joint or parallel clinical trials; (3) to share preliminary high-throughput screening data across discovery labs to hasten the development of novel therapeutics. Medulloblastoma Down Under 2013 was an effective forum for meaningful discussion, which resulted in enhancing international collaborative clinical and translational research of this rare disease. This template could be applied to other fields to devise global action plans addressing all aspects of a disease, from improved disease classification, treatment stratification, and drug targeting to superior treatment regimens to be assessed in cooperative international clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC3895219  PMID: 24264598
Neuro-Oncology  2012;14(11):1404-1412.
A phase II study of bevacizumab (BVZ) plus irinotecan (CPT-11) was conducted in cases of pediatric recurrent ependymoma (EPN) to estimate sustained objective response rate and progression-free survival (PFS). Eligible patients received 2 doses of single-agent BVZ intravenously (10 mg/kg) 2 weeks apart and then BVZ + CPT-11 every 2 weeks until progressive disease, unacceptable toxicity, or a maximum of 2 years of therapy. Correlative studies included diffusion-weighted and T1 dynamic contrast enhanced permeability imaging and tumor immunohistochemistry for vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)–A and –B, hypoxia inducible factor–2α, VEGF receptor (R)–2, and carbonic anhydrase (CA)–9. Thirteen evaluable patients received a median of 3 courses (range, 2–12) of BVZ + CPT-11. No sustained response was observed in any patient. Median time to progression in 10 patients was 2.2 months (range, 1.9–6.3). Two patients had stable disease for 10 months and 12 months, respectively. Six-month PFS was 25.7% (SE = 11.1%). Grades I–III toxicities related to BVZ treatment included fatigue in 4 patients, systemic hypertension in 2, epistaxis in 1, headache in 1, and avascular necrosis of bone in 1. Although there was a decrease in the mean diffusion ratio following 2 doses of BVZ, it did not correlate with PFS. BVZ + CPT-11 was well tolerated but had minimal efficacy in cases of recurrent EPN.
PMCID: PMC3480265  PMID: 23019233
bevacizumab; CPT-11; efficacy; ependymoma; recurrent
Neuro-Oncology  2012;14(8):1018-1025.
Psychological or neurocognitive impairment is often seen in medulloblastoma survivors after craniospinal radiation; however, significant variability in outcomes exists. This study investigated the role of antioxidant enzyme polymorphisms in moderating this outcome and hypothesized that patients who had polymorphisms associated with lower antioxidant enzyme function would have a higher occurrence of impairment. From the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS) cohort, 109 medulloblastoma survivors and 143 siblings were identified who completed the CCSS Neurocognitive Questionnaire (NCQ) and the Brief Symptom Inventory-18 (BSI-18) and who provided buccal DNA samples. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) allelic discrimination was used for SOD2 (rs4880), GPX1 (rs1050450), and GSTP1 (rs1695 and rs1138272) genotyping and PCR for GSTM1 and GSTT1 gene deletions. Outcomes on NCQ and BSI-18 subscale scores were examined in association with genotypes and clinical factors, including age at diagnosis, sex, and radiation dose, using univariate and multivariate analysis of variance. Patients <7 years of age at diagnosis displayed more problems with task efficiency (P < .001) and fewer problems with somatic complaints (P = .004) than did patients ≥7 years of age. Female patients reported more organization problems than did male patients (P = .02). Patients with homozygous GSTM1 gene deletion reported higher anxiety (mean null genotype = 47.3 ± 9.2, non-null = 43.9 ± 7.8; P = .04), more depression (null = 51.0 ± 9.8, non-null = 47.0 ± 9.4; P = .03), and more global distress (null = 50.2 ± 9.7, non-null = 45.2 ± 9.9; P = .01). All associations for the GSTM1 polymorphism remained statistically significant in a multivariate model controlling for age, sex, and radiation dose. Homozygous GSTM1 gene deletion was consistently associated with greater psychological distress in medulloblastoma survivors across multiple domains, suggesting that this genotype may predispose patients for increased emotional late effects.
PMCID: PMC3408256  PMID: 22661588
Childhood Cancer Survivor Study; glutathione S-transferase polymorphisms; medulloblastoma; neuropsychological impairment; radiation therapy
Journal of child neurology  2008;23(10):1122-1127.
The management of childhood brain tumors, which consist of many different histological subtypes, continues to be a challenge. Outcome, measured not only by survival rates but also by the effects of disease and therapy on quality of life, has improved over the past two decades for some tumor types, most notably medulloblastomas. For others, however, there has been little progress, and quality of life for long-term survivors remains suboptimal. Because of advances in our understanding of the biology underlying childhood brain tumors, treatments may change dramatically in the years ahead. Accordingly, survival rates may improve and long-term sequelae lessen.
PMCID: PMC3674838  PMID: 18952578
Neuro-Oncology  2012;14(6):790-797.
Optic pathway gliomas (OPGs) occur in 15%–20% of children with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1); up to half become symptomatic. There is little information regarding ophthalmologic outcomes after chemotherapy. A retrospective multicenter study was undertaken to evaluate visual outcomes following chemotherapy for NF1-associated OPG, to identify risks for visual loss, and to ascertain indications for treatment. Subjects included children undergoing initial treatment for OPGs with chemotherapy between January 1997 and December 2007. Of 115 subjects, visual acuity (VA) decline and tumor progression were the primary reasons to initiate treatment, although there were significant differences in the pattern of indications cited among the institutions. Eighty-eight subjects and 168 eyes were evaluable for VA outcome. At completion of chemotherapy, VA improved (32% of subjects), remained stable (40%), or declined (28%). Tumor location was the most consistent prognostic factor for poor VA outcome. There was poor correlation between radiographic and VA outcomes. Although visual outcomes for NF1-associated OPG are not optimal, approximately one-third of children regain some vision with treatment. Since radiographic outcomes do not predict visual outcomes, their use as the primary measure of treatment success is in question. The lack of consensus regarding the indications for treatment underlines the need for better standardization of care. Future clinical trials for OPG require standardized visual assessment methods and clear definitions of visual outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3367846  PMID: 22474213
neurofibromatosis; optic glioma; outcomes; visual acuity
Pediatric neurology  2012;46(4):203-211.
Pediatric brain tumors are often difficult to cure and involve significant morbidity when treated with traditional treatment modalities, including neurosurgery, conventional chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. During the past two decades, a clearer understanding of tumorigenesis, molecular growth pathways, and immune mechanisms in the pathogenesis of cancer has opened up promising avenues for therapy. Pediatric clinical trials with novel biologic agents are underway to treat various pediatric brain tumors, including high and low grade gliomas and embryonal tumors. As the therapeutic potential of these agents undergoes evaluation, their toxicity profiles are also becoming better understood. These agents have potentially better central nervous system penetration and lower toxicity profiles compared with conventional chemotherapy. In infants and younger children, biologic agents may prove to be of equal or greater efficacy compared with traditional chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and may reduce the deleterious side effects of traditional therapeutics on the developing brain. Molecular pathways implicated in pediatric brain tumors, agents that target these pathways, and current clinical trials are reviewed. Associated neurologic toxicities will be discussed subsequently. Considerable work is needed to establish the efficacy of these agents alone and in combination, but pediatric neurologists should be aware of these agents and their rationale.
PMCID: PMC3654250  PMID: 22490764

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