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Neuro Tumor Club Dinner at AACR


The 21st Annual Neuro-Tumor Club Dinner Meeting took place in Philadelphia, PA, on April 20, 2015. This meeting, which is organized every year by the Society for Neuro-Oncology, has been a long-standing venue for brain tumor researchers attending the annual meeting of the AACR. The meeting took place at the Hotel Monaco Philadelphia, which provided an excellent location in downtown Philadelphia near the main AACR venue, and was co-chaired by Steven Brem, from the University of Pennsylvania, and Mariano Viapiano, from the Brigham and Women's Hospital / Harvard Medical School. Generous support for the meeting was provided by the companies Celldex Therapeutics, Genentech, and Novocure.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Attendees or SNO members who would like an electronic library of published current papers relevant to the presentations at the Neuro Tumor Club, please send an email request to

Following the growing trend in participants to Society for Neuro-Oncology sponsored meetings, this event was attended by a large number of investigators (over 175) from diverse areas of neuro-oncology. Forty-seven abstracts of outstanding quality were received, the largest number since the beginning of the Neuro-Tumor Club series. The task of selecting the abstracts to a number compatible with the length of the dinner was difficult and required careful consideration from the Chairs; 16 abstracts were chosen to be presented in four thematic sessions:

- Brain Tumor Microenvironment and CNS Metastases
- Biomarkers and Novel Technologies
- Novel Agents and Translational Approaches
- Stem Cells and Molecular Phenotyping

The first session opened with a novel look at the role of the tumor microenvironment, showing that active neurons release a synaptic protein (neuroligin-3) that promotes glioma growth (Humsa Venkatesh, Stanford University). Two additional talks in this session described the immunosuppressive effect of myeloid-derived suppressor cells in glioma (Neha Kamran, University of Michigan) and PI3K/Src-dependent invasive mechanisms in glioblastoma cells, including a novel inhibitor, BKM-120 (Maria Speranza, Harvard Medical School). 

In the second session, two presentations highlighted novel technologies used to detect biomarkers and improve brain tumor profiling: The first described the use of tumor-produced microvesicles to predict response (progression vs. pseudoprogression) of glioblastoma patients to therapy (Sydney Evans, University of Pennsylvania), while the second described the sequencing of the whole T cell receptor complement (TCRseq) in tumors as a new method to profile glioma patients by "immuno-phenotyping" (Jennifer Sims, Columbia University). The following two presentations in this session described novel and exciting technologies to differentiate brain tumor tissue from normal tissue, including real-time optical coherence tomography to measure light scattering (Carmen Kut, Johns Hopkins University) and real-time mass-spectrometry of tumor tissue "vaporized" during electrosurgery (Kevin O'Neill, Imperial College of London).

The next session focused on translational studies and novel agents for tumor detection or therapy, including CNS tumors other than gliomas.  Allison Hanaford (Johns Hopkins University) provided a novel, unbiased pathway analysis in medulloblastoma, involving neural stem cells that revealed cyclin-dependent kinases as a key therapeutic target; the second presentation focused on pathway analysis of pediatric diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas and demonstrated the therapeutic efficacy of HDAC inhibitors (e.g., panobinostat) identified through molecular phenotyping (Catherine Grasso, Oregon Health Sciences Center and the Children’s Oncology Group). The next two presentations in this session described novel agents to detect and treat brain tumors: Ana Krtolica (Omniox, Inc.) described a novel oxygen-carrier protein that improves therapeutic efficacy against glioma while John Lee (University of Pennsylvania) described fluorescent-guided tumor resection using enhanced permeability and retention to enhance resectability of tumors using a FDA-approved cyanine dye (indocyanine green).

Without delay, the next and final session brought a wealth of "-omics" knowledge from novel strategies used to profile brain tumors and stratify their therapeutic responses. Patrick Paddison (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center) described the novel use of CRISPR technology to identify tumor-suppressor genes in engineered glioma cells This exciting new technology was followed by an interesting analysis of clonal heterogeneity and its impact on tumor recurrence (Siyuan Zheng, MD Anderson Cancer Center), and epigenetic regulation of EGFR expression in gliomas (Nadejda Tsankova, Mount Sinai Health Systems). The last two talks of the evening focused on breast metastases to the CNS: The first of these talks detailed a large-scale genomic study showing a pattern of mutations specific to metastatic cells homing to the brain, with 56% of patients having a clinically “actionable” genomic alteration (Priscilla Brastianos, Massachusetts General Hospital). In the final presentation of the evening, a whole genomic sequencing (WGS) of circulating metastatic tumor cells highlighted the existence of mutations and mechanisms (e.g., hyperactive DNA repair) that drive the dormancy, "stemness", and therapeutic resistance of metastases to the brain (Dario Marchetti, Baylor College of Medicine).

Overall, the meeting was a lively event much enjoyed by the participants. Both co-chairs kept a brisk pace to allow sufficient time for discussions, which followed almost all the presentations and provided great feedback to the studies presented. The tone of the venue was informal, cheerful, and driven by great enthusiasm towards the data shown by the speakers. At the conclusion of the event several researchers remained engaged in informal and animated conversations prompted by the thought-provoking presentations.

The Society thanks Drs. Brem and Viapiano for leading a stimulating and enjoyable evening, and for encouraging the attendees to join them at the next annual meeting of the Society for Neuro-Oncology, from November 19 to 22 in San Antonio, Texas. 

Readers are also encouraged to mark their calendars for the next Neuro-Tumor Club Dinner, scheduled to take place on Monday, April 18, 2016, in New Orleans, LA.