The Johns Hopkins BRAF Brain Tumor Center aims to help patients with brain tumors that originated in the brain (primary brain tumors) that have a BRAF gene mutation. Our multispecialty team includes experts across neurosurgery and the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center who provide patient care and conduct research to improve outcomes for patients with these rare tumors.
What We Do
Evaluate and treat patients with BRAF-mutated primary brain tumors.
Explore the role of new pathway inhibitors that might help treat these patients.
Partner with our basic science colleagues to discover mechanisms of resistance, clinically relevant targets and new pathway-specific drugs.
About BRAF Brain Tumors
- BRAF is a gene that can be abnormally activated in patients with certain cancers. It encodes a protein that sends signals inside the cell promoting tumor growth.
- BRAF-mutated brain tumors are uncommon. However, as genetic testing is being conducted more frequently, more cases are being identified.
- Drugs that interrupt the BRAF pathway have had success in other cancers with BRAF mutations, such as melanoma. However, they are not currently approved for use in BRAF-mutated brain tumors.
- These drugs are expensive, and are often difficult to obtain. It is also unclear which of these drugs best penetrate the blood-brain barrier or are the most effective in brain cancers.
Christie Adams, PA-C
Physician Assistant working with Chetan Bettegowda, M.D., Ph.D.
Jill Anderson, PA-C
Physician Assistant Manager working with Henry Brem, M.D.
Ashley Kang, PA-C
Physician Assistant working with Debraj Mukherjee, M.D., M.P.H.
Carla Scott, PA-C
Senior Physician Assistant working with Chris Jackson, M.D., and Judy Huang, M.D.
Glioblastoma and BRAF Gene Mutation | Courtney’s Story
After being diagnosed with a glioblastoma brain tumor in 2008, Courtney’s prognosis was not good. A referral to neuro-oncologist Karisa Schreck and neurosurgeon Jon Weingart changed the course of her illness. They identified the tumor as having a specific mutation in the BRAF gene, and they used a combination of surgery, conventional chemoradiation and targeted therapy to reduce its size and then keep the cancer in remission.
BRAF-Mutated Brain Tumors: Research and Clinical Trials
Clinical trials show that a combination of BRAF inhibitors and MEK inhibitors can be effective for some patients with BRAF-mutated glioma. The best time to use these medications is still unclear, and it's difficult to predict who will respond to treatment and who will not.
Our center conducts treatment trials available to people with BRAF-mutated brain tumors. We study how these tumors become resistant to BRAF and MEK inhibitors, which will help us predict who might benefit from these drugs and what the optimal combination might be.
Dr. Schreck and researchers in the Pratilas laboratory are studying how gliomas become resistant to targeted therapy and how new small-molecule inhibitors can be combined to inhibit RAS effector pathways.