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Intra-arterial Chemotherapy for the Treatment of Progressive Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Gliomas

A diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) is a type of tumor that grows in the pons of the brainstem. The pons is located at the base of the brain where it connects to the spinal cord. These tumors are difficult to treat because they grow within the normal brain tissue. This procedure involves administering melphalan hydrochloride, a chemotherapy agent, directly into the arteries that provide blood to this tumor. Delivering the chemotherapy through these arteries helps to the focus the chemotherapy agent directly on the tumor. This increases the dosage that the tumor receives and decreases the toxic effects of chemotherapy on the rest of the body.

Our interdisciplinary team consists of Monica Pearl, M.D., an interventional neuroradiologist who performs the procedure, Kenneth Cohen, M.D. and Eric Raabe, M.D., from the Department of Pediatric Oncology and Stephanie Terezakis, M.D. from the Department of Radiation Oncology.

How is intra-arterial chemotherapy different from systemic chemotherapy?

Systemic chemotherapy involves injecting anti-cancer medications into a vein or giving them by mouth. This exposes the entire body to significant doses of chemotherapy, which can make the patient sick as it fights the cancer. Intra-arterial chemotherapy delivers the anti-cancer medication directly to the tumor via the vertebral artery, which supplies the tumor, thereby transforming the treatment from systemic (delivered to the whole body) to local chemotherapy (delivered directly to the tumor) and limits the complications and adverse effects of chemotherapy. Click the image below to watch a video on this topic.

Who is eligible for this treatment?

Patients considered for this treatment are pediatric patients up to the age of 17 years old with progressive DIPG. The trial will be enrolling a total of 5 patients.

Patients with disorders of coagulation or vasculopathy, and abnormal renal function are not eligible to receive this treatment.

This study was sponsored by Solving Kids' Cancer

Contact Us:

For more information please contact:

Amber Jones
Division of Interventional Neuroradiology

Phone: 410-502-0736; or 410-955-8525

You can also visit the Clinical Trials website and enter the trial number NCT01688401 in the search box.

Study sponsored by Solving Kids' Cancer, a non-profit organization. SKC operates as a therapeutic development enterprise for pediatric cancer. Learn more at