Category Archives: Brain Cancer

Are Better Targeted Treatments Possible in Children’s Brain Cancer?

zebrafish-model-cancer-researchAccording to a recent article, MEK Inhibitors Reverse Growth of Embryonal Brain Tumors Derived from Oligoneural Precursor Cells, in the journal Cell Reports, researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah have identified an existing group of drugs that appear to reduce or eliminate a particular subgroup of childhood brain cancers while sparing normal brain tissue.

Childhood Brain Cancer affects thousands of children globally every year, and it kills more children than any other cancer. Malignant brain tumours grow rapidly and are likely to spread into other areas of the brain very quickly. Although brain tumours in children are the second most common form of childhood cancer, it is still unknown what the cause of most childhood brain cancers is.

The research was conducted using a new zebrafish animal model system developed by the researchers, which closely resembles an aggressive subtype of paediatric brain tumours.

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Scientists Tackle Lethal Childhood Brain Cancer

dipgIn precision medicine era legacy gifts of patient brain tissue reveal disease mechanisms and new therapeutic approaches.

Sandra Smith, a pastor’s wife and mother of three in DeWitt, Mich. and her son were both diagnosed with cancer during the same week. She with an aggressive form of breast cancer and her son, six-year-old Andrew, with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a fatal childhood brain cancer that typically strikes between the ages of 4-10 and kills most within a year of diagnosis.

In DIPG, the malignant cells entwine with normal brain tissue in a region that controls critical functions such as breathing and heart rate, making it impossible for a surgeon to remove the tumour. Radiation therapy has been proven to be the only treatment that helps, and then only to extend life by a few short months. Andrew outlived the “typical” DIPG patient by surviving just over two years after his diagnosis, passing away at the end of 2009.

DIPG accounts for about 10% of childhood brain and spinal cord tumours. It is the second-most common paediatric brain tumour and the leading cause of cancer death in children. Treatment options and survival rate for DIPG have not changed in 40 years.

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Celebrating Heini – Brain Cancer

heini-sept-16-1September is International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and once again the Little Fighters Cancer Trust is hard at work sharing everything we can regarding Childhood Cancer and trying to raise Childhood Cancer Awareness by sharing information and Personal Stories with you.

Today we are once again sharing the story of Little Heinrich van Straaten (Heini). We have shared his story before, but we feel that we need to share it again as this Little Fighter is still fighting every day of his life as a result of brain cancer.

The Little Fighters Cancer Trust would like to sincerely thank all our Onco Parents that have shared with us in the hope that their stories can help other parents who have children that are ill but are not sure what the problem is, and to raise Childhood Cancer Awareness so that earlier diagnosis can be done.

We will continue to publish more poems and stories by Onco Parents throughout this month as we work hard to bring Childhood Cancer to the fore and spread Childhood Cancer Awareness – all in the effort to inform and educate other parents to the ravages of Childhood Cancer and to remind everyone that

The Best Defence against Childhood Cancer is Awareness and Early Diagnosis

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Best Nutrition for Children with Brain Cancer

Quick-Diets-3-Weight-Loss-Super-Foods-289x300It is vital that Children with Cancer, including Children with Brain Cancer, eat well-balanced, nutritional meals and snacks in order to maintain their weight, rebuild any tissue lost in treatment, and strengthen their immune system and power it to fight against the brain cancer.

The occurrence of malnutrition in children with childhood tumours is multifactorial and develops during therapy for cancer in 40-80% of children. Malnutrition is more commonly seen in patients with advanced neuroblastoma, Wilms tumour, Ewing sarcoma and advanced lymphomas.

Malnutrition is usually more severe with aggressive tumours in the later stages of malignancy. Children who have a poor nutritional status have lower survival rates compared to those with a good nutritional status.

The majority of childhood cancers are treated by combined modality therapy, including surgery, radiotherapy, and antineoplastic schedules commonly providing a variety of side effects, which may lead a child into a state of nutritional deprivation.

Each of these treatment modalities may produce injuries to major organ systems (liver and pancreas), and a combination of therapies could result in a synergism of adverse effects.

Multimodality therapies combined with the effects of the tumour itself affect nutritional status and damage rapidly growing cells, e.g., in the gastrointestinal tract, causing serious and undesirable symptoms. Read the rest of this entry

May is International Brain Cancer Awareness Month

ribbon_gray_brain_cancer03May is International Brain Cancer Awareness Month, but what does that really mean? Do YOU know anything about Brain Cancer? Do YOU know what happens to a Child with Brain Cancer? Have you got ANY idea of what a Child with Brain Cancer experiences, or what their parents go through as they watch their offspring battle Brain Cancer?

Children should be able to be children – to run around and play without care, and to learn as they grow, both at school and through learning via socialising, play and good parenting. When a child gets brain cancer, most of this goes out of the window, as the tumour grows and affects the areas of the brain that control speech, sight, balance, personality/emotions, language, understanding, and sensation.

It is heart-breaking for any parent to watch their child lose all that they have learned to do as they grew and going backwards day by day in everything that makes them who they are. It is difficult to deal with a child who has mood swings and goes from being an angelic youngster to being a total rebel who has become uncontrollable; to care for a child who has become a little adult and to watch them going back to being a helpless infant who cannot dress themselves, feed themselves, control their bladder, keep themselves entertained; and who doesn’t understand what is going on… Read the rest of this entry

Raman Spectroscopy Probe Could Improve Outcomes In Brain Cancer Surgery

 Imaging technique tells tumor tissue from normal tissue, could be used in operating room for real-time guidance of surgery

Imaging technique tells tumour tissue from normal tissue, could be used in operating room for real-time guidance of surgery

Gliomas represent 30% of all brain tumours, and 80% of them are malignant. Brain tumours are the leading cause of death in children under the age of 20.

One of the big problems with brain tumours is that a surgeon can never really be sure that they have managed to remove all the cancerous cells, which is why brain tumours often recur, and when they come back they are normally very virulent.

While traditional imaging technology such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) can identify solid tumours easily, they often cannot detect cancerous cells that have invaded healthy tissue on the periphery of the tumour.

Scientists from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital – The Neuro, McGill University, the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), and Polytechnique Montréal have developed a new intraoperative probing technique that could increase survival odds for patients with brain cancer.

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Doctor Improves Cancer Teen’s Health with Game-Changing Approach

Physican-Spotlight-Santosh-Kesari-MD-PhDA local brain cancer specialist believes more lives could be saved if doctors took a closer look at individual tumours, which is the game-changing approach that saved one teen in Agoura Hills.

The first time 17-year-old Nicole Saldivar knew something was wrong was when she started having vision and balance problems. An optometrist detected something unusual.

She saw something behind her eyeball,” said Alfredo Saldivar, her father. “It was, like, bleeding and stuff so we took her to the hospital right away.”

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New Drug May Overcome Treatment Resistance in Childhood Neuroblastoma

cancerPediatric oncologists from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have reported their latest results in devising new treatments for stubbornly deadly forms of the childhood cancer neuroblastoma.

Building on their experience in treating some refractory subtypes of neuroblastoma with the anti-cancer drug crizotinib, the researchers have identified a powerful new drug with “unparalleled” strength against forms of the cancer that resist crizotinib.

Our preclinical results provide a strong rationale for fast-tracking this drug into clinical trials in children with neuroblastoma,” said study leader Yael P. Mossé, M.D., a pediatric oncologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “We expect to begin a clinical trial early this year.”

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Curing Paediatric Cancer… My ‘What If?’

Brain Cancer Warrior

Amber Larkin and her young 6-year-old son, Noah were having breakfast, chatting and getting ready for the day when suddenly he vomited for no reason. Amber took her son to see the paediatrician just in case, and was told that it was probably just a virus, but Amber was not happy and told the Dr that her son had also complained of a headache. An MRI was scheduled for 8-30 that evening…

Within a matter of 12 hours Amber went from chatting with her son to him having a stomach bug to him being diagnosed with brain cancer… he was operated on at 7 the next morning…

Published on Dec 13, 2013

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Selective mitochondrial chemotherapy, decimates brain tumours and headed for human trials


An experimental drug that attacks brain tumour tissue by crippling the cells’ energy source called the mitochondria has passed early tests in animal models and human tissue cultures, state researchers Houston Methodist and Weill Cornell Medical College.  The team designed a drug called MP-MUS that destroyed 90 to 95 percent of malignant glioma cells, yet in other experiments did not seem to adversely affect healthy human brain cells (in vitro). This compliments a soon to be published extensive study showing the same drug can treat human brain cancer grown in the brains of mice. Researchers hope to begin testing the drug in human clinical trials in 2016.  The study is published in the journal ChemMedChem.

Previous studies from the lab have shown that MP-MUS has very low toxicity until it gets into tumour cells. Once it arrives, it is changed to its active form, doing a lot of damage to cancer cells selectively, leaving healthy brain cells alone. To the team’s knowledge, this is the first known example of selective mitochondrial chemotherapy, which they believe represents a powerful new approach to brain cancer.


Read the Full Article on Health Innovations




Revolutionary probe enables surgeons to detect all invasive brain cancer cells during surgery


Brain cancer patients may live longer thanks to a new cancer-detection method developed by researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University and the Polytechnique Montréal. The collaborative team has created a powerful new intraoperative probe for detecting cancer cells. The hand-held Raman spectroscopy probe enables surgeons, for the first time, to accurately detect virtually all invasive brain cancer cells

Often it is impossible to visually distinguish cancer from normal brain, so invasive brain cancer cells frequently remain after surgery, leading to cancer recurrence and a worse prognosis.  Surgically minimizing the number of cancer cells improves patient outcomes.  The study is published in Science Translational Medicine.


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Conn Bertish ~ Inspirational Brain Cancer Survivor

Conn Bertish

Conn Bertish

Good Morning Little Fighter Friends,

Today our post is not about childhood cancer per se, but is still a very inspirational story of overcoming brain cancer and about a new app that could have the ability to change millions of lives.

Conn Bertish is a local, and an internationally awarded creative director and storyteller who has won many awards and has been dubbed an Agent Provocateur by the local media.

In 2006 Conn was diagnosed with an extraordinarily rare form of cancer for which data  for the behaviour and reaction to standard treatments was dismally lacking.

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