Ivy Brain Tumor Center

Brain Cancer Research Donations Help Find Cure Within The Next Decade

Programs that Save Lives

Discovering Hope. Every Day.

The traditional standard of care for aggressive brain cancers like glioblastoma is not working. Surgery followed by an extended course of chemo or radiation isn’t curing brain cancers. For most patients, the tumor just keeps growing. Incredibly low survival rates have not improved in three decades: only 5 percent of those with the most aggressive brain tumors are still alive after 5 years. We must do better for this community.

This is the mission of the Ivy Brain Tumor Center at the Barrow Neurological Institute. The Center is leading a new national movement that individualizes treatment to quickly identify drugs that will actually work on for each specific patient. Moving beyond the status quo, Ivy Center doctors use a new research method that develops drugs designed for each patient’s particular circumstances. Their goal is to find a cure for brain cancer within the next decade.

See what we achieved in the last fiscal year by downloading the Stewardship Report below.

FY21 Ivy Brain Tumor Center Stewardship Report
FY21 Ivy Brain Tumor Center Stewardship Report
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More than 0 people worldwide are fighting malignant brain tumors
0 out of 10 will die of their disease within five years
Only 0 new brain tumor drugs gained FDA approval between 1998 and 2014

Developing a new standard of care with the help of brain cancer research donations

Brain cancer is hard. Every patient’s cancer is slightly different, unlike tumors in other parts of the body. If a tumor returns after surgery, it may be different yet. Any single drug is unlikely to be effective for all patients. In addition, the brain is designed to keep bad stuff out. This blood-brain barrier, however, can also keep live-saving drugs from reaching a tumor.

How do we get around around these difficult realities?

When you donate, you support Barrow’s new approach to brain tumor research: the Phase 0/2 trial, which tests drugs in as little as four months, with as few as 15 patients, and at a fraction of the conventional cost. It is the largest Phase 0/2 clinical trials program in the world.

In Phase 0, an approach pioneered by Nadar Sanai, MD, the Center’s director of neurosurgical oncology, a patient receives a small dose of an experimental drug a day before surgery. During the operation, doctors collect tumor tissue, blood and spinal fluid, then immediately test the samples to determine if the drug reached the tumor and affected it.

If it didn’t, doctors don’t waste the patient’s time trying a drug that won’t work. They move on to other therapies. But if the tests show the drug had an effect, the patient goes directly into the Phase 2 component of the trial and receives a higher daily dose of the experimental drug. This gives the community of people with brain cancer hope of a better chance for success than in standard, extended trials. Learn more by reading the Ivy Center’s FAQs.

Ultimately, this personalized medicine strategy to brain tumor treatment will allow Barrow to establish a new standard of care employing individually chosen drugs, chemotherapy and radiation. This approach allows for dozens of drugs to be tested quickly, thus identifying cures faster. With the help of your donations to support these efforts, we advance our mission.

The Ivy Center’s brain tumor research efforts lead in other novel approaches, further advancing the mission of finding a cure. For instance, the Center is the first in the world to host a clinical trial of sonodynamic therapy. This new, non-invasive treatment applies a non-toxic sensitizing chemical to the brain tumor and then targets the tumor with low-intensity ultrasound. This one-two punch keeps cancer cells from dividing, thus killing them. Dr. Sanai reports that initial results have been positive.

Other new trials test whether niraparib, a drug developed to fight ovarian cancer, could also be effective against glioblastoma, and whether a new AstraZeneca drug for patients with recurring gliomas penetrates the brain-blood barrier and increases the effectiveness of radiation.


Understanding Phase 0/II of clinical trials

Donations are accelerating the search for a brain cancer cure

Thanks to the generous support of The Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation and other donors, Barrow is intensifying and accelerating these brain tumor research efforts. The Ivy Brain Tumor Center is assembling a program specializing in high-throughput Phase 0/2 clinical trials for brain tumor patients by identifying new first-in-class drug combinations that will attack deadly cancer cells.

The Center recently broke ground on a five-story, 75,000-square-foot headquarters that will be the largest dedicated space for brain cancer research in the world! Dedicated to the singular mission of finding therapies that work for every patient, it will be a resurgent light of hope.

As the Center grows, every patient, regardless of diagnosis or stage of the brain tumor, will have the option to enroll in a Phase 0/2 clinical trial. The expansion in lab space and the recruitment of top brain tumor scientists and clinical staff will fast-track medical discovery and offer hope and support to the community of those battling brain tumors.

  • 10 clinical trials now enrolling
  • Launched 1st in-human trial of sonodynamic therapy
  • 1,000 patients screened for clinical trials since 2018
Melissa speaks with a nurse at the Ivy Brain Tumor Center
Patient Story

Patient becomes advocate for others with brain tumors

Read Melissa’s story of fearlessly fighting a brain tumor with the help of Barrow specialists.

View Story

We rely on generous donors to research new treatments for brain cancer. We are committed to extending the lives of patients with malignant brain tumors and improving their quality of life. The only way we can accomplish our mission of finding a cure within this decade is to continue researching new drug combinations and quickly identifying safe and effective therapies.