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 safely done.
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, Washington, DC.
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.