Subependymomas and ependymomas are rare brain tumors that grow slowly in the ependymal cells near the ventricles of the brain and spinal cord. These tumors are more common in children than adults. Because they rarely advance into surrounding tissue, low grade tumors like subependymomas and ependymomas are potentially treatable with surgery. However, the delicate location of these tumors often makes the complete surgical removal of the tumor difficult.
Currently there is minimal information available to guide decision-making for patients and physicians facing ependymal tumors. The Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Subependymoma and Ependymoma Research Center conducts basic science, translational and clinical practice research with the goals of optimizing current treatment options and developing new therapies that will positively impact the care and lives of patients with these brain tumors.
Basic Science Research
The basic science team has scientific and therapeutic sub-divisions. The scientific group will characterize human subependymomas and ependymomas, and develop preclinical systems which accurately model the tumors.
The therapeutic division will focus primarily on radiation therapy and evaluate the efficacy of a combination treatment of stereotactic radiosurgery with antibodies that promote inflammation directed at the tumor to eradicate the cancer cells. This treatment approach could revolutionize the care of patients with ependymal tumors as surgery would no longer be the single treatment option for disease-free survival. Stereotactic radiosurgery – as opposed to whole brain irradiation – minimizes the dose of radiation delivered to healthy brain tissue and it can eradicate portions of the tumor not accessible through surgery.
The translational research division will work to rapidly implement findings and therapies from the basic science division. A team including a dedicated research nurse, a research technician and a biostatistician will be dedicated to designing, conducting and analyzing clinical trials.
Clinical Practice Research
The clinical practice team will work to optimize current treatment protocols for ependymal tumors and establish a basis for future research. A subependymoma and ependymoma tumor bank – a collection of tumor samples gathered with consent from patients undergoing surgery at Johns Hopkins – will be developed by this group. The tumor bank will assist future studies in the basic science division.
This team will also evaluate treatment outcomes to improve the care patients undergoing established current treatment regimens receive. The scope of this work will encompass quality of life issues, including the effects of radiation therapy.
To learn more about the Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Subependymoma and Ependymoma Research Center, call 410-614-1627. If you have been diagnosed with an ependymal tumors and are looking for treatment, contact the Johns Hopkins Glioma Center.