Kosair Charities Clinical and Translational Research Building
Kosair Charities Clinical and Translational Research Building

A new classification system for tumors of the brain and spinal cord released this year by the World Health Organization will help physicians tailor treatments more precisely to a patient’s tumor. Kenneth Aldape, MD, who helped develop the new classification system, will discuss its significance July 8 at the University of Louisville’s second annual James Graham Brown Cancer Center Neuro-oncology Symposium in his discussion, “Molecular Markers for Adult Glioma.” Gliomas are tumors that develop in the supportive tissue of the brain.

Aldape was part of an international team of medical researchers contributing to the 2016 World Health Organization Classification of Tumors of the Central Nervous System (2016 WHO CNS), which sets the international standard for describing and classifying tumors of the central nervous system. The 2016 edition provides universal terminology allowing physicians and researchers to define tumors based not only on their morphology (the form and structure of the tumors), but also on their molecular characteristics (genetic mutations or structural variants). These standards ultimately will facilitate more precise and effective treatments for patients.

“These new classifications position us on the path of delivering precision medicine,” said Eyas Hattab, MD, MBA, chair of the UofL Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. “This will allow physicians to tailor treatments more specifically to the individual patient’s tumor.”

For example, prior to the 2016 CNS WHO, a tumor may have been identified as glioblastoma based on its location and cell structure. The revised classification now provides universal terminology to identify the tumor as either IDH-mutant or IDH-wildtype, based on molecular characteristics. This refinement will allow for more accurate prognosis for patients and the potential development of specific treatments for different tumors.

“If we know these are molecularly distinct entities, it gives us the opportunity to study their behaviors. We can come back in a few years and say that based on our studies, these behave better or worse or they can benefit from the following treatments,” Hattab said.

Also at the July 8 UofL symposium, Michael Prados, MD, co-project leader of the Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium, will discuss current research in the area of precision-based therapies for patients with recurrent glioblastomas.

The agenda for the JGBCC Neuro-oncology Symposium on July 8 is as follows: 

Introduction and overview of primary glioma – Eric Burton, MD, assistant professor in the UofL Department of Neurology and director of neuro-oncology at JGBCC.

Surgical intervention for primary glioma Raymond Sawaya, MD, chair and professor of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Sawaya’s presentation will cover the advantages of radical surgery for primary brain tumors and the technological advances that have allowed such surgeries with reduced morbidity.

Radiation oncology for primary glioma Shiao Woo, MD, chair and professor in the UofL Department of Radiation Oncology, professor in the UofL Department of Pediatrics and the Kosair Children’s Hospital/Norton Healthcare Chair in Pediatric Oncology.

Chemotherapy and clinical trials for adult glioma – Michael Prados, MD, Charles B Wilson Chair in Neurosurgery and professor emeritus at the University of California San Francisco. Prados will discuss research in the area of precision-based therapies for patients with recurrent glioblastomas.

Molecular markers for adult glioma Kenneth Aldape, MD, senior scientist and director of MacFeeters-Hamilton Brain Tumor Centre at Toronto General Hospital and professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto.

The symposium is co-hosted by the UofL Department of Neurology and the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, a part of KentuckyOne Health. Registration begins at 7:15 a.m. on Friday, July 8, at the Kosair Charities Clinical and Translational Research Building, 505 South Hancock Street on the University of Louisville Health Sciences Campus.

Continuing education credit is available for health care providers. The event is free for UofL-affiliated providers, $15 for nurses and $20 for all others. For additional information, visit the conference website or email Emily Rollins.

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Betty Coffman
Betty Coffman is a Health Communications Specialist, working on the Health Sciences Campus with departments in the School of Medicine. A UofL alumna and Louisville native, she served as a writer and editor for local and national publications and as an account services coordinator and copywriter for marketing and design firms prior to joining UofL’s Office of Marketing and Communications.