Brain tumors can be among the most challenging cancers to treat. The blood-brain barrier, a natural defense mechanism that shields the brain from harm, can also prevent cancer treatments from reaching tumors.
“It can be difficult to get treatments effectively into the brain,” says David Reardon, MD, clinical director of Dana-Farber’s Center for Neuro-Oncology. However, he adds that new immunotherapy treatments may be able to get through the blood-brain barrier and effectively reach tumors.
“We know the immune system can get into the brain to fight infections and inflammatory conditions,” explains Reardon. “Our current research is moving forward to a level where we’re critically confirming that these immunotherapy drugs are getting into the brain and making a difference.”
In this Cancer Conversations podcast episode, Reardon discusses immunotherapy, precision medicine, and other new approaches to brain tumor treatment with Patrick Wen, MD, director of the Center for Neuro-Oncology.
“One major area of advancement in all cancer, including brain tumors, is the understanding of the molecular changes that drive tumors,” says Wen. “We’ve been able to characterize molecular changes in both high-grade and low-grade gliomas, and because of that we can develop drugs to target the molecular drivers of these tumors.”
The Cancer Conversations series features Q&A-style conversations with Dana-Farber physicians, clinicians, and researchers. Topics include breast cancer research, precision cancer medicine, integrative therapies, cancer genetics, and more. Visit the Cancer Conversations page for more episodes and the Dana-Farber podcast page for more cancer podcast series.