The 2008 SNO Education Day, chaired by Patrick Wen from Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, included a balance of updates on translational research, basic science and clinical care. It was held in parallel with a Quality of Life program chaired by Sherry Fox from the University of Virginia. The Education Day program attracted a large audience of over 500 registrants.
The morning session, chaired by John DeGroot from MD Anderson Cancer Center, focused on the limitations of current therapies for brain tumors and Strategies To Overcome Resistance. Patrick Wen gave an overview of the current status of targeted molecular therapies, including inhibitors of angiogenesis, and their limitations. Gabrielle Bergers from University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) discussed the important issue of mechanisms of resistance to antiangiogenic therapies and potential strategies to overcome these mechanisms. Michael Berens from Translational Research Genomics Institute provided an overview of tumor invasion and the difficult challenges in developing effective therapies for this problem. Ingo Mellinghoff from Memorial Sloan Lettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) discussed resistance to targeted molecular therapies, focusing especially on the epidermal growth factor receptor. Arnab Chakravarti from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) discussed issues related to resistance to cytotoxic therapies including MGMT and PARP inhibitors. Andrew Kung from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute gave an overview of apoptosis and autophagy and the novel strategies being evaluated to improve cytotoxic effects of brain tumor therapies. Eric Holland from MSKCC closed the morning session with a overview of stem cell resistance and the importance of the PI3kinase/Akt pathway.
At lunch time Arie Perry from Washington University gave an update on the changes in the new World Health Organization (WHO) Classification of brain tumors that was introduced in 2007.
In the afternoon two concurrent sessions were held, one devoted to the relatively new and important area of RNA interference (RNAi) which is revolutionizing cancer research, and the other devoted to supportive care issues in brain tumor patients that significantly affect their quality of life.
The RNAi session was chaired by William Hahn from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Massachusetts institute of Technology. He began the session by providing an overview of the topic. Randy Jensen from the University of Utah discussed RNAi in brain tumors. Benjamin Purow from the University of Virginia (UVA) gave an overview of the therapeutic potential of this class of agents. Khalid Shah from MGH closed the session by discussing the difficult issues surrounding effective delivery of RNAi to brain tumors.
At the same time as the RNAi session, a “Supportive Care” session was held in conjunction with the Quality of Life Program. This session was chaired by Michael Glantz from the University of Utah. He began the session by discussing the management of seizures in brain tumor patients. Camilo Fadul from Dartmouth University reviewed the treatment of the very common problem of venous thromboembolic disease. Myrna Rosenfeld gave an overview of the management of peritumoral edema and steroid side effects. Mary Lovely from the National Brain Tumor Society discussed the under-recognized issue of fatigue. Lisa Rogers from the University of Michigan reviewed the management of cognitive impairment and depression. In the final talk of this session Eileen Bohan from Johns Hopkins discussed symptom management in brain tumor patients.
The final session of the Education Day program involved debates on two common clinical problems facing neuro-oncologists. Andrew Lassman from MSKCC and Martin van den Bent from Erasmus University in Holland discussed the merits of adjuvant chemotherapy in patients with anaplastic oligodendrogliomas. David Schiff from UVA and Glenn Bauman from the University of Western Ontario discussed the risks and benefits of radiation therapy versus chemotherapy for low-grade gliomas.