BETHESDA, MdNine childrens cancer centers have joined
together under the auspices of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to
form the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium. The NCI will provide the
group $2 million a year for 5 years to fund collaborative efforts to
develop and carry out pilot studies and early clinical trials of
promising new therapies for children with brain malignancies.
The consortium anticipates enrolling 80 to 100 patients in three or
four studies annually. Treatments that show promise will move on to
more definitive trials with NCIs Clinical Trials Cooperative
Groups. The consortiums first trials will begin in September.
No one childrens cancer center sees enough children with
brain tumors to conduct timely clinical studies, said Malcolm
Smith, MD, of NCIs Cancer Therapeutic Evaluation Program. He
said the consortiums collaborative studies will enable
evaluation of new treatment strategies as quickly as can be
The consortium will investigate new biological therapies,
chemotherapy regimens, novel neurosurgical procedures, and radiation
therapy techniques. These include drugs targeted at specific proteins
in cancer cells, radiosurgery procedures, immunomodulators, and new
drug-delivery systems and gene therapy techniques.
A wide range of clinical research opportunities exists in
childhood brain tumors, said NCI director Richard Klausner, MD.
The Consortium will be able to take advantage of these
opportunities and, by rapidly identifying and evaluating novel
treatments, expedite progress toward our ultimate goal, which is
improved outcomes for children with brain malignancies.
Peter Phillips, MD, of The Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia,
will head the groups steering committee.
The consortiums nine treatment centers are the Dana-Farber
Cancer Institute, Boston; Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC;
Baylor College of Medicine, Houston; St. Jude Childrens
Research Hospital, Memphis; The Childrens Hospital of
Philadelphia; Childrens Hospital of Pittsburgh; the University
of California, San Francisco; Childrens Hospital and Regional
Medical Center, Seattle; and Childrens National Medical Center,
In addition, the consortiums center, responsible for
administration and data management and analysis, will be located at
St. Jude where it will be headed by James Boyett, PhD.