Mark W. Kieran,MD, PhD
A new era in cancer is upon us. For the first time, the field of oncology has moved from defining tumor cells based on their outward appearance, to a detailed sequence of the molecules inside the cells that provide important clues about what went wrong, and more importantly, how to potentially fix it.
From this biology, numerous new interventions from targeted/personalized treatments to immunotherapy are now being used in many cancers, including those of the brain. Gliomatosis Cerebri is one of the worst tumors, defined by its diffuse and widely infiltrative growth that makes surgical removal impossible and application of radiation to such a large area of the brain difficult.
Because of these issues, Gliomatosis Cerebri remains one of the least focused areas of investigation, both for adult and pediatric patients. In fact, it was recently removed as a formal diagnosis from the World Health Organization (WHO) classification schema of adult and pediatric brain tumors.
In March of 2015, three centers (Hospital St Joan de Déu in Barcelona, Cornell University in New York and Dana-Farber/Harvard Medical School in Boston) gathered a group of dedicated scientists and families because of the generous support of a number of foundations to host the First International Gliomatosis Cerebri (GC) Group Meeting in Paris, France.
From that meeting came an identification of the major issues facing biologists, clinicians, families as well as funders in understanding and treating Gliomatosis Cerebri. The 2nd International Gliomatosis Cerebri Working Group Conference we are holding in Bethesda has been designed to build on the success of the first meeting, and will focus not on further identification of the issues of the disease, but rather on how to advance our understanding of the disease forward in ways that can have eventual clinical impact.
As one of the most malignant diseases in humans, the road will be neither easy nor fast. Gathering the best and brightest with a commitment to seeing this through to the end, this conference offers real hope for patients suffering from this disease. Without all of you here, we would have no chance for success. However, our work will not be done when we leave.
By working together after the meeting, sharing ideas and results (both positive and negative), it is my sincerest hope that the future 3rd International Conference will have the first real opportunities for possible therapeutic intervention.
Mark W. Kieran, MD, PhD
Pediatric Medical Neuro-Oncology
Dana-Farber Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center
Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School
Co-Chair 2nd International Conference on Gliomatosis Cerebri
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