SNO Roundup!

April 05, 2022

The 2022 Society for Neuro-Oncology Annual Meeting in Boston, MA included some very special presentations organized by our DF/HCC Neuro-Oncology Program. Read below to learn more about our member’s research presentations and the health disparities program co-led by program staff.

Highlights in clinical and translational research

In his Keynote Presentation on Genome Editing, Dr. David Liu, director of the Merkin Institute of Transformative technologies in Healthcare at the Broad Institute, highlighted some of his ground-breaking research using base editing to treat genetic disorders such as progeria and sickle cell anemia.

As a featured plenary talk at SNO, Dr. Isabel Arrillaga-Romany presented a late-breaking abstract on the clinical efficacy of ONC201 in recurrent H3 K27M-mutant diffuse midline gliomas. H3K27M-mutant diffuse midline gliomas are associated with a poor prognosis without effective therapies for recurrent tumors. In this study of 50 pediatric and adult patients with recurrent disease, the use of ONC201 was associated with a 20% objective response rate via RANO-HGG with 12-month and 24-month overall survival of 57% and 35%, respectively. These exciting findings demonstrate that ONC201 monotherapy can provide a durable and clinically meaningful benefit in H3-K27M mutant tumor patients.

The Individualized Screening Trial of Innovative Glioblastoma Therapy (INSIGhT) trial, developed and led by DFCI investigators, is a phase 2 trial adaptive platform trial using Bayesian adaptive randomization for newly diagnosed umethylated MGMT glioblastoma patients. It is the first adaptive platform trial for glioblastoma, and it was designed to identify promising therapies more efficiently in GBM. Dr. Isabel Arrillaga-Romany presented the preliminary results of the neratinib arm on the trial. Although neratinib prolonged progression-free survival in the EGFR-positive subgroup of patients, there was no overall progression-free or overall survival benefit. Dr. Rifaquat (Rif) Rahman presented an overview of the status of the INSIGhT trial, as all three initial experimental arms have completed accrual. Based upon the INSIGhT experience, multi-center Bayesian adaptive platform trials are feasible and effective for prioritizing biomarkers and therapies for GBM.

Addressing Health Disparities in Neuro-Oncology

Our second Town Hall session this year focused on “Eliminating Health Disparities in Neuro-Oncology.” Dr. UgonmaChukwueke, neuro-oncologist at the DFCI Center for Neuro-Oncology and prior co-Chair of the SNO Women and Diversity Committee, kicked off the event by discussing the results of the 2020 SNO Diversity Survey. This survey was the first to define the demographics, the experienced racial biases and career success metrics of the SNO membership. Of 386 respondents, 18% identified as underrepresented minorities in medicine (URiM)as defined by the NIH. Black/African American and Latinx/Hispanic responders reported a daily frequency of experienced biases, which correlated with lower job satisfaction and high turnover. To view the full results of the survey, click here for the open access publication in Neuro-Oncology.

The evening also featured three national leaders in diversity, equity and inclusion in the field of oncology. Dr. Charles Thomas, Chair of Radiation Oncology at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center and deputy editor of JAMA Oncology, shared strategies for diversifying the oncology workforce. A seasoned expert in the field, he spoke on the importance of not just mentorship but sponsorship, implementation of institutional requirements for diversity & inclusion activities for all faculty members and D&I statements for new hires, and the use of visiting faculty opportunities as a way to recruit URiM candidates, among others.

Dr. Chistopher Lathan, Chief Clinical Access and Equity Officer at DFCI and Associate Medical Director of the DFCI Network, shared Dana-Farber’s emerging experience with patient navigators through the new Cancer Care Equity Program (CCEP) at DFCI. This program helps patients from historically marginalized groups navigate the complex world of cancer care. The CCEP is being piloted in the Division of Gastrointestinal Oncologybut is expected to roll out to other disease centers at the DFCI.

Finally, the evening ended with a riveting talk by Dr. Karen Winkfield, Executive Director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and appointee to the National Cancer Advisory Board by President Joe Biden in 2021. Dr. Winkfield spoke on addressing the significant systemic barriers to health care access faced by patients of racial and ethnic minorities, low socioeconomic status, the LGBTQ+ community and those in rural settings, with particular attention to clinical trial enrollment. She discussed increasing availability, increased provider education and awarenessto increase discussions on clinical trial options to all patients, and better support for vulnerable patients as strategies to improve participation in clinical trials.

These presentations and more are available on the 2021 SNO annual meeting website for registered users.

-Rif Rahman, J. Ricardo McFaline-Figueroa and Christian Badr