Research and Clinical Trials News

Research and Clinical Trials News

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50 Percent of Patients in Cedars-Sinai Brain Cancer Study Alive After Five Years

  • Monday, 25 November 2013 13:29

With Standard Care, Median Length of Survival is 15 Months After Diagnosis of Glioblastoma Multiforme – and Only 10 Percent Survive More Than 5 Years

Los Angeles - Nov. 24, 2013 - Eight of 16 patients participating in a study of an experimental Immune System therapy directed against the most aggressive Malignant brain tumors – glioblastoma multiforme – survived longer than five years after diagnosis, according to Cedars-Sinai researchers, who presented findings Nov. 23 at the Fourth Quadrennial Meeting of the World Federation of Neuro-Oncology.

Seven of the 16 participants still are living, with length of survival ranging from 60.7 to 82.7 months after diagnosis. Six of the patients also were "progression free" for more than five years, meaning the tumors did not return or require more treatment during that time. Four participants still remain free of disease with good Quality of life at lengths ranging from 65.1 to 82.7 months following diagnosis. One patient who remained free of brain Cancer for five years died of leukemia.

The original clinical trial – a Phase I study designed to evaluate safety – included 16 patients with glioblastoma multiforme enrolled between May 2007 and January 2010 by researchers at Cedars-Sinai's Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Brain Tumor Center.

Results published in January at the end of the study showed median overall survival of 38.4 months. Typically, when Tumor-removal surgery is followed by standard care, which includes radiation and Chemotherapy, median length of survival is about 15 months. Median progression-free survival – the time from treatment to tumor recurrence – was 16.9 months at study's end. With standard care, the median is about seven months.

The experimental treatment consists of a vaccine, ICT-107, intended to alert the immune system to the existence of cancer cells and activate a tumor-killing response. It targets six antigens involved in the development of glioblastoma cells.

According to information presented at the scientific meetings, all eight long-term survivors had tumors with at least five antigens, 75 percent had tumors with all six, and 100 percent had tumors with at least four antigens associated with cancer stem cells – cancer-originating cells that appear to enable tumors to resist radiation and chemotherapy and even regenerate after treatment.

"Our findings suggest that targeting antigens that are highly expressed by cancer stem cells may be a viable strategy for treating patients who have glioblastomas. Long-term remission of disease in this group of patients was correlated with the expression of cancer stem cell tumor-associated antigens," said Surasak Phuphanich, MD, director of the Neuro-Oncology Program at the Cochran Brain Tumor Center and professor of neurology with Cedars-Sinai's Department of Neurosurgery and Department of Neurology.

Based on results of the Phase I study, the ICT-107 vaccine entered a Phase II multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled trial in 2011.

The vaccine is based on dendritic cells, the immune system's most powerful antigen-presenting cells – those responsible for helping the immune system recognize invaders. They are derived from white blood cells taken from each participating patient in a routine blood draw. In the laboratory, the cells are cultured with synthetic peptides of the six antigens – essentially training the dendritic cells to recognize the tumor antigens as targets. When the "new" dendritic cells in the vaccine are injected under the patient's skin, they are intended to seek and destroy lingering tumor cells. Vaccine is administered three times at two-week intervals after standard radiation and chemotherapy.

Phuphanich is first author of an abstract presented at the scientific meetings' poster session from 5 to 7 p.m. PST Nov. 23.

ICT-107 is a product of the biotechnology company ImmunoCellular Therapeutics, Ltd. Cedars-Sinai owns equity in the company, and certain rights in the dendritic cell vaccine technology and corresponding intellectual property have been exclusively licensed by Cedars-Sinai to ImmunoCellular Therapeutics, including rights associated with ICT-107, the vaccine investigated in this clinical study.

Several members of the research and presentation team have ties to the company. Abstract co-author Keith Black, MD, a Cedars-Sinai physician, owns stock in the company. Senior author John Yu, MD, a Cedars-Sinai physician, owns stock in the company and is its founder, chief scientific officer and chair of the board of directors. James Bender, PhD, MPH, a co-author, is Immunocellular Therapeutics' vice president for product development and manufacturing. Elma Hawkins, a co-author, also is identified with Immunocellular.

Co-authors who do not have relationships with the company include: Surasak Phuphanich, MD, PhD, first author; Christopher Wheeler, PhD; Jeremy Rudnick, MD; Jethro Hu, MD; Mia Mazer; Hong Q. Wang; Miriam Nuno; Cherry Sanchez; Xuemo Fan; Jianfel Ji; and Ray Chu, MD.

Citation: Abstract and poster presentation at Fourth Quadrennial Meeting of the World Federation of Neuro-Oncology, hosted by the Society for Neuro-Oncology, in San Francisco Nov. 21-24. Poster session from 5 to 7 p.m. PST Saturday, Nov. 23: "Long Term Remission Over 5 Years in Patients with Newly Diagnosed Glioblastoma (GBM) Treated with ICT-107 Vaccine: A Follow Up Study."

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Clues to rare childhood brain tumor uncovered

  • Sunday, 24 November 2013 20:07

Researchers studying a rare, lethal childhood Tumor of the brainstem discovered that nearly 80 percent of the tumors have mutations in genes not previously tied to Cancer. Early evidence suggests the alterations play a unique role in other aggressive pediatric brain tumors as well.

The findings from the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project (PCGP) offer important insight into a poorly understood tumor that kills more than 90 percent of patients within two years. The tumor, diffuse intrinsic pontine Glioma (DIPG), is found almost exclusively in children and accounts for 10 percent to 15 percent of pediatric tumors of the brain and Central Nervous System.

“We are hopeful that identifying these mutations will lead us to new selective therapeutic targets, which are particularly important since this tumor cannot be treated surgically and still lacks effective therapies,” says Suzanne Baker, PhD, co-leader of the St. Jude Neurobiology and Brain Tumor Program and a member of the St. Jude Department of Developmental Neurobiology. She is a corresponding author of the study published in the Jan. 29 online edition of the journal Nature Genetics.


DIPG is an extremely invasive tumor that occurs in the brainstem, which is at the base of the skull and controls such vital functions as breathing and heart rate. DIPG cannot be cured by surgery and is accurately diagnosed by non-invasive imaging. As a result, DIPG is rarely biopsied in the United States, and little is known about it.

Cancer occurs when normal gene activity is disrupted, allowing for the unchecked cell growth and spread that makes cancer so lethal. In this study, investigators found 78 percent of the DIPG tumors had alterations in one of two genes that carry instructions for making proteins that play similar roles in packaging DNA inside cells. Both belong to the histone H3 family of proteins. DNA must be wrapped around histones so that it is compact enough to fit into the nucleus. The packaging of DNA by histones influences which genes are switched on or off, as well as the repair of mutations in DNA and the stability of DNA. Disruption of any of these processes can contribute to cancer.

Researchers said that the mutations seem unique to aggressive childhood brain tumors.


“It is amazing to see that this particular tumor type appears to be characterized by a molecular ‘smoking gun’ and that these mutations are unique to fast-growing pediatric cancers in the brain,” says Richard K. Wilson, PhD, director of The Genome Institute at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and one of the study’s corresponding authors. “This is exactly the type of result one hopes to find when studying the genomes of cancer patients.”

The results are the latest from the PCGP, an ambitious three-year effort to sequence the complete normal and cancer genomes of 600 children with some of the most poorly understood and aggressive pediatric cancers. The human genome includes the complete set of instructions needed to assemble and sustain human life. The goal is to identify differences that explain why cancer develops, spreads and kills. Researchers believe the findings will provide the foundation for new tools to diagnose, treat or prevent the disease.

For this study, researchers sequenced the complete normal and cancer genomes of seven patients with DIPG.

“The mutations were found at such high frequency in the cancer genomes of those seven patients that we immediately checked for the same alterations in a larger group of DIPGs,” Baker says. When researchers sequenced all 16 of the related genes that make closely related variants of histone H3 proteins in an additional 43 DIPGs, they found many of the tumors contained the same mistakes in only two of these genes.

Of the 50 DIPG tumors included in this study, 60 percent had a single alteration in the makeup of the H3F3A gene. When the mutated gene was translated into a protein, the point mutation led to the substitution of methionine for lysine as the 27th amino acid in this variant of histone H3 protein. Another 18 percent of the DIPG patients carried the same mistake in a different gene, HIST1H3B.

Researchers are now working to understand how mutations in H3F3A and HIST1H3B impact cell function and contribute to cancer. Earlier research provides some clues. The lysine that is mutated is normally targeted by enzymes that attach other molecules to histone H3, influencing how it interacts with other proteins that regulate gene expression, Baker says. Mutations in the enzymes that target histone H3 have been identified in other cancers, but this is the first report showing a specific alteration of histones in cancer.

H3F3A and HIST1H3B were also mutated in other aggressive childhood brain tumors, glioblastoma, that develop outside the Brain Stem. Of 36 such tumors included in this study, 36 percent carried one of three distinct point mutations in the genes. The alterations included another single change in the makeup of H3F3A not found in DIPGs.

The histone H3 genes, however, were not mutated in any of the 252 other childhood tumors researchers checked for this study. The list included the brain tumors known as low-grade gliomas, medulloblastomas and ependymomas plus other cancers outside the brain and nervous system. The H3 changes have not been reported in any other cancers, including adult glioblastoma.

“This suggests these particular mutations give a very important selective advantage, particularly in the developing brainstem and to a lesser degree in the developing brain, which leads to a terribly aggressive brain tumor in children, but not in adults,” Baker says.

“This discovery would not have been possible without the unbiased approach taken by the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project,” Baker says. “The mutations had not been reported in any other tumor, so we would not have searched for them in DIPGs. Yet the alterations clearly play an important role in generating this particular tumor.”

The research was funded in part by the PCGP, including Kay Jewelers, a lead project sponsor; the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Sydney Schlobohm Chair of Research from the National Brain Tumor Society; the Cure Starts Now Foundation, Smile for Sophie Forever Foundation, Tyler’s Treehouse Foundation, Musicians Against Childhood Cancer, the Noyes Brain Tumor Foundation and ALSAC.

Washington University School of Medicine
Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Since opening 50 years ago, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has changed the way the world treats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. No family ever pays St. Jude for the care their child receives and, for every child treated here, thousands more has been saved worldwide through St. Jude discoveries. The hospital has played a pivotal role in pushing U.S. pediatric cancer survival rates from 20 to 80 percent overall, and is the first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted to children. It is also a leader in the research and treatment of blood disorders and infectious diseases in children. St. Jude was founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas, who believed that no child should die in the dawn of life. Join that mission by visiting or following us on and Twitter @StJudeResearch.

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The Cancer Genome Atlas exposes more secrets of lethal brain tumor

  • Thursday, 10 October 2013 20:51
  • Last Updated ( Thursday, 10 October 2013 20:54 )

Project delves deeply into genomics of 599 Glioblastoma Multiforme cases to better target disease

HOUSTON – When The Cancer Genome Atlas launched its massively collaborative approach to organ-by-organ genomic analysis of cancers, the brain had both the benefit, and the challenge, of going first.

TCGA ganged up on glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and lethal of brain tumors, with more than 100 scientists from 14 institutions tracking down the genomic abnormalities that drive GBM.

Five years later, older and wiser, TCGA revisited glioblastoma, producing a broader, deeper picture of the drivers – and potential therapeutic targets – of the disease published in the Oct. 10 issue of Cell.

"The first paper in 2008 characterized glioblastoma in important new ways and illuminated the path for all TCGA organ studies that have followed," said senior author Lynda Chin, M.D., professor and chair of Genomic Medicine and scientific director of the Institute for Applied Cancer Science at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

"Our new study reflects major improvements in technology applied to many more Tumor samples to more completely characterize the landscape of genomic alterations in glioblastoma," said Chin, who was also co-senior author of the first paper while she was on the faculty of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

"Information generated by this unbiased, data-driven analysis presents new opportunities to discover genomics-based biomarkers, understand disease mechanisms and generate new hypotheses to develop better, targeted therapies," Chin said.

About 23,000 new cases of GBM are predicted in the United States during 2013 and more than 14,000 people expected to die of the disease. Most patients die within 15 months of diagnosis.

Well of rich, detailed data will nurture better treatment

New information about genetic mutations, deletions and amplifications; gene expression and epigenetic regulation; structural changes due to chromosomal alterations, proteomic effects and the molecular networks that drive GBM make for a Deep, broad dataset that will underpin research and clinical advances for years to come.

"Our main contribution is this tremendous resource for the GBM research community, which is already heavily relying on the earlier TCGA study," said co-lead author Roeland Verhaak, Ph.D., assistant professor of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at MD Anderson. "Whatever new treatments people come up with for GBM, I'm very confident that their discovery and development will in some way have benefited from this rich and detailed data set," he said.

The Cell paper describes analysis of tumor samples and molecular data from 599 patients at 17 study sites. Detailed clinical information including treatment and survival was available for almost all cases.

New targetable mutations

In addition to confirming significantly mutated genes discovered earlier, such as the tumor suppressors TP53, PTEN and RB1 and the oncogene PIK3CA, the analysis identified 61 new mutated genes. The most frequent mutations occurred in from 1.7 to 9 percent of cases.

Two of these, BRAF and FGFR, might have more immediate clinical relevance, Verhaak noted. MD Anderson neuro-oncologists are checking to see if patients have these mutations. Drugs are available to address those variations now, Verhaak said. The BRAF point mutation in GBM is the same commonly found in melanoma, which is treated by a new class of drugs.

More twists and turns for EGFR

The larger data set and an improved analytical algorithm allowed major refinement of gene amplification and deletion information. For example, common amplification events were found to occur more frequently than previously known, including amplification of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) on chromosome 7.

EGFR is both amplified and mutated frequently in GBM; yet therapeutic efforts targeting EGFR so far have failed. "We found EGFR is more frequently altered than we already thought," Verhaak said.

Overall, the EGFR gene was mutated, rearranged, amplified or otherwise altered in 57 percent of tumors. Increased EGFR protein levels in GBM cells correlated with the many mechanisms of EGFR alteration, Verhaak said.

A treatment based on EGFR still has great potential, he noted. But strategies to target EGFR will need to address the likelihood that different alterations of EGFR might be present in the same tumor and affect the impact of targeted drugs.

Breaking GBM into molecular subtypes

Verhaak and other researchers in recent years have begun to classify GBM tumors by gene expression. Four such subgroups -- neural, proneural, mesenchymal and classical -- were further characterized by DNA methylation pattern, signaling pathway activity and by clinical measures such as survival and treatment response. Methylation of a gene turns it off.

Understanding the subgroups could establish biomarkers to guide treatment and identify new therapeutic targets.

The team found, for example, that the survival advantage of the proneural subtype depends on a specific DNA methylation pattern known as G-CIMP and that DNA methylation of the MGMT gene may serve as a biomarker of treatment response in the classical subtype.


Co-authors with Chin and Verhaak are 56 investigators from 39 institutions on behalf of the TCGA Research Network. MD Anderson co-authors are Siyuan Zheng, Ph.D., Rahulsimham Vegesna, and John Weinstein, M.D., Ph.D., of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology; W.K. Yung, M.D., of Neuro-Oncology; Kenneth Aldape, M.D., and Wei Zhang, Ph.D., of Pathology and Gordon Mills, M.D., Ph.D., of Systems Biology.

Zhang, Weinstein and Chin are all leaders or co-leaders of three of the seven TCGA Genome Analysis Centers.

Co-lead authors with Verhaak are Cameron Brennan, M.D., of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and Aaron McKenna, Ph.D., of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.

TCGA is a joint project of the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health. This glioblastoma project was funded by NIH grants (U24CA143883, U24CA143858, U24CA143840, U24CA143799, U24CA143835, U24CA143845, U24CA143882, U24CA143867, U24CA143866, U24CA143848, U24CA144025, U24CA143843, U54HG003067, U54HG003079, U54HG003273, U24CA126599, U24CA126544, U24CA126546, U24CA126551, U24CA126554, U24CA126561, U24CA126563, U24CA143731, U24CA143843.)

About UT MD Anderson Cancer Center

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston ranks as one of the world's most respected centers focused on cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. MD Anderson is one of only 41 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute. For 10 of the past 12 years, including 2013, MD Anderson has ranked No. 1 in cancer care in U.S. News & World Report's annual "Best Hospitals" survey. MD Anderson receives a cancer center support grant from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (P30 CA016672).

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No viral cause for breast cancer and brain tumors

  • Wednesday, 09 October 2013 09:25

A major study conducted at the Sahlgrenska Academy has now disproved theories of a viral cause for breast Cancer and the Brain Tumour, glioblastoma. The study, which was based on over seven billion DNA sequences and which is published in Nature Communications, found no genetic traces of viruses in these forms of cancer.

It has been scientifically proven that about 15 per cent of all cancer cases are the result of viral infection, but many researchers believe that even more cancers could be caused by viruses. Among other theories, it is suggested that the Epstein-Barr virus could be a possible cause of breast cancer and that the cytomegalovirus might cause the Malignant brain tumour glioblastoma.

"There is some controversy in that we have not found any viruses in these forms of cancer, but if there were any viral involvement in breast cancer and glioblastoma, it is likely that we would have found some trace of it. We have based our research on American material, which is extremely comprehensive," says Erik Larsson, who is a researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg.

The study was published in the highly-regarded scientific journal "Nature Communications". The study involved the researchers using powerful computers to conduct in-depth analysis of 700 billion DNA sequences from more than 4,000 tumours.

"We conducted an unbiased search for viruses in 19 different types of cancer. The analysis has neatly confirmed the links that are already known, which effectively confirms that we are using the right method," says Erik Larsson.

The result of the study is a massive chart of viral presence in cancer. Among other things, the study was able to confirm that liver cancer is often caused by the hepatitis virus, and that the human papilloma virus causes cervical cancer. The study also shows that viral infection also causes major adaptations in the tumour cell, and that virus-positive tumours from widely different organs can therefore display considerable similarities.

The article The landscape of viral expression and host gene fusion and adaptation in human cancer was published online on 1 October.

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Using a robot to improve brain cancer treatment is aim of a $3 million NIH award to WPI

  • Friday, 30 August 2013 21:20

With the 5-year R01 award, a team of researchers led by Worcester Polytechnic Institute will test a new, minimally invasive approach to treating brain tumors that promises to accurately destroy Malignant tissue and leave surrounding tissue unaffected

IMAGE: This image shows Gregory Fischer, right, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and robotics engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and director of WPI's Automation and Interventional Medicine (AIM) Laboratory, and...

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Worcester, Mass. – With a five-year, $3 million R01 award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), through the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a team of researchers led by Gregory Fischer, PhD, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and robotics engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and director of WPI's Automation and Interventional Medicine (AIM) Laboratory, will test a new, minimally invasive approach to treating brain tumors that promises to accurately destroy malignant tissue while leaving surrounding tissue unaffected. This approach would be a significant improvement over current treatments.

"This significant, highly competitive award from the National Institutes of Health is not only recognition for the pioneering contributions to MRI-guided robotic surgery being made by Professor Fischer and his team, but it has the potential to pave the way for more effective therapies for cancers of the brain and other organs," said WPI Provost Eric Overström, PhD. "This award is also a powerful illustration of the major advances in medicine that can be realized through collaborations between engineers and clinicians."

The system will use a robot designed to work within the bore of an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanner to precisely guide a probe through a dime-sized opening in the cranium to the Tumor with the aid of real-time MRI images. The probe will destroy the tumor by heating it with interstitial high-intensity focused ultrasound (iHIFU). Developed by industry collaborator Acoustics MedSystems Inc., the device can emit ultrasound energy in a highly directional manner so only malignant tissue is heated, even with irregularly shaped Deep-brain tumors. When guided by live MRI images, using a novel robotic manipulator developed by Fischer's lab and specially designed MRI coils developed by Reinhold Ludwig, PhD, professor of electrical and computer engineering at WPI, the probe will be able to accurately target the tumor.

"For surgeries that require precise knowledge of the location of structures and tumors in the body, real-time MRI imagery is invaluable," Fischer said. "Once a hole is made in the skull, for example, the brain may swell and shift, and even images acquired just prior to the surgery will no longer be accurate. Live images enable real-time control and a high degree of accuracy."

Currently, patients diagnosed with brain tumors typically face one of two courses of treatment, both of which have important limitations. Stereotactic radiation surgery, in which a radiation beam is focused on the tumor, is noninvasive and can increase survival, but it may take multiple treatments to relieve symptoms and it is difficult to confirm that the tumor has been destroyed. Open-brain surgery provides quick relief of symptoms and tissue samples for lab testing, but it is highly invasive and can lead to serious complications.

IMAGE: This illustration shows components of the MRI-guided robotics system being developed at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) for surgical treatment of brain tumors. In the photo at left are the MRI-compatible...

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Julie Pilitsis, MD, PhD, associate professor of surgery in the division of neurosurgery at Albany Medical College, will serve as the lead clinical advisor for the research. A neurosurgeon specializing in deep-brain stimulation, Dr. Pilitsis was formerly director of functional neurosurgery at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Co-investigators on the current project are Matthew Gounis, PhD, associate professor and co-director of the Advanced MR Imaging Center at UMass Medical School, and Everette Burdette, PhD, president and CEO of Acoustic MedSystems.

Acoustic MedSystems will develop the MRI-compatible ablation device and software to help guide and control it. The device will have tiny sensors that will enable doctors to precisely track its position in real-time MRI images and an array of ultrasound emitters that will permit the zone of penetration of ultrasound to be adjusted to match the shape of the tumor as it appears in the live images. "The combination of guidance by real-time imagery and a conformable ablation zone will result in a significant step forward in the accuracy and success of ablation therapy," Fischer said. "While our focus now is on brain tumors, we believe this technology will have applications in treating cancers in other organs, as well."

The team at UMass Medical School will bring their expertise in MRI imagery to the research and will also coordinate and conduct clinical tests of the robotic ablation system. Fischer's team will develop a new robotic device specifically designed to manipulate and deliver the ablation tool to the proper location in the brain under live MRI guidance. The ablative therapy will then be performed with live MR thermal imaging (MRI scanners are able to detect temperature changes in tissues). The ultrasound energy produced by the tool will heat surrounding tissue sufficiently to destroy it; MR thermal imaging will be used to monitor which tissues are being heated and enable physicians to interactively adjust the output of the ultrasound tool to assure that the proper thermal dose is delivered.

"MRI is an excellent imaging modality for many conditions," Fischer said, "but to date there has been limited success in harnessing this modality for the guidance of interventional procedures. With this award from the NIH, we believe we will be able to develop a new approach and new technology that will effectively harness the power of MRI to improve the treatment of brain cancer."


About the Automation and Interventional Medicine (AIM) Laboratory

WPI's AIM Lab is engaged in research in various areas of biomedical robotics, including robot-assisted surgery, image-guided interventions, MRI-compatible mechatronics, haptics and teleoperation, robotic rehabilitation, and assistive robotics. The lab's director, Professor Gregory Fischer, joined WPI in 2008 after receiving a PhD in mechanical engineering from Johns Hopkins University as part of the NSF Engineering Research Center for Computer Integrated Surgery. The robotic technology funded by the new NIH award builds on the AIM Lab's pioneering work with surgical robots that are designed to work within the challenging environment of an MRI scanner. As a core research thrust, the AIM Lab has developed a modular MRI robot control system, approaches to actuating piezoelectric motors, optical force sensors, in-bore teleoperation, and surgical systems for stereotactic neurosurgery and percutaneous prostate cancer interventions. In previous work, funded by the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs and the NIH, and conducted in collaboration with researchers and clinicians at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Johns Hopkins, and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Fischer and his colleagues have also developed MRI-guided robotic systems for use in surgery for the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1865 in Worcester, Mass., WPI was one of the nation's first engineering and technology universities. Its 14 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, business, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts, leading to bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. WPI's talented faculty work with students on interdisciplinary research that seeks solutions to important and socially relevant problems in fields as diverse as the life sciences and bioengineering, energy, information security, materials processing, and robotics. Students also have the opportunity to make a difference to communities and organizations around the world through the university's innovative Global Perspective Program. There are more than 30 WPI project centers throughout North America and Central America, Africa, Australia, Asia, and Europe.

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