Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure Gathers the Best and Brightest at its Annual Scientific Retreat

Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure held its fifth annual Scientific Retreat this October 16th–
18th at Miraval Life in Balance in Tucson, Arizona and gathered leaders in cancer research to establish priorities for the coming year and foster collaboration across institutional lines.

This is a time of tremendous promise for brain cancer patients and Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure was joined by preeminent scientists and clinicians, as well as patients, industry and regulatory officials representing more than 20 institutions such as: M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the National Institute for Neuro-logical Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), Genentech, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, The Mayo Clinic, TGen, Duke University, UCLA, UCSF, and others.

“Patients and their families remain at the core of our efforts just as they did when my brother, Dan Case, started the organization,” remarked Steve Case, Chairman of the Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure Board of Directors.  “Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure was created with the belief that the acceleration of new, life-saving therapies will be achieved by bringing all thinking and innovation to the forefront - the patients who attended our retreat provided valuable insight and inspiration in moving forward to finding a cure.”

“I was able to see first hand the importance of creating a supportive, collaborative environment for scientific and medical research,” said Kris Campbell, a two and a half year survivor of an astrocytoma brain tumor from Kansas City.  “I found it amazing to be in a room filled with people who have dedicated their lives to finding effective treatments for brain tumors — I called my husband and said, these are my superheroes,” Mrs. Campbell continued.

Presentations focused on innovations in translational research and included an update on The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project and its anticipated impact on the development of therapies for GBM, jointly presented by Dr. Anna Barker from the National Cancer Institute and Dr. Jeff Trent from TGen Research Institute.  Leading researchers, Drs. Keith Black from Cedars-Sinai and Jeremy Rich from Duke University discussed the potential for cancer stem cells as a new therapeutic target and Drs. Paul Mischel from UCLA and Al Yung from M. D. Anderson Cancer Center discussed the clinical development and optimization of small-molecule inhibitor therapy that targets the Her-kinase axis.  There was significant focus on the importance of patient participation in clinical trials and Dr. Howard Fine from the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Donald Thornton from Eli Lilly and Dr. Bob Mass from Genentech provided a summary of current and future therapies in clinical trials.  Additionally, Heather Wimmer, from Los Altos Hills, CA, shared her moving experience as a GBM patient and eight-month survivor. 

These presentations informed a primary objective of the meeting, a strategic discussion on how — as a collective force — we can best move brain cancer research forward.  While noting the considerable efforts the group agreed, “We need to do more,” and debated the best approaches and prioritized strategic goals to make a significant difference in brain cancer research over the next three to five years.

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