Meeting Report: Society for Neuro-Oncology November Meeting Series


Beginning on November 20, 2019, the Society for Neuro-Oncology (SNO) sponsored a series of translational research-focused educational conferences in Phoenix, Arizona. Among others, the series included:

At each of these conferences, a wide range of physicians (e.g., neurosurgeons, neurologists, neurooncologists, and neuroradiologists), scientists, industry partners, and nonprofit patient-centered research and education groups listened to presentations and discussed the state-of-the-art for treating patients with brain and spinal cord tumors. The therapeutic delivery sessions featured several speakers and presentations on using focused ultrasound to access the brain.

The Foundation’s Director of Clinical Relationships, Suzanne LeBlang, MD, attended the therapeutic delivery conference and an educational dinner. “SNO invited us to these incredibly worthwhile sessions. Despite having such a large attendance, the networking opportunities had such a personal feel,” said Dr. LeBlang. “We look forward to having a larger presence at their future meetings. The session on therapeutic drug delivery highlighted several lectures on focused ultrasound which ignited significant enthusiasm. The questions from the audience clearly showed that various medical specialists want to learn more about the state of the field for focused ultrasound.”

“Because focused ultrasound was new to many of our attendees, it garnered much attention at this meeting,” said J. Charles (Chas) Haynes, JD, SNO’s Executive Director. “We are looking forward to featuring the expansive capabilities of the technology at our future cross-disciplinary educational offerings and collaborating with the Focused Ultrasound Foundation on their outreach and funding initiatives.”

Highlights from the SNO November 2019 Meeting Series

Neuro-Oncology Review Course
On Wednesday, November 20, a full-day neuro-oncology review course covered neuropathology, current chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment regimens, primary tumor management, metastatic disease, complications, neuroradiology, pediatric neuro-oncology, palliative care, and more.

3rd Joint Conference on Therapeutic Delivery to the CNS
On Wednesday and Thursday, November 20-21, the Joint Conference on Therapeutic Delivery to the CNS was co-sponsored with the Society for CNS Interstitial Delivery of Therapeutics (SCIDOT). Session titles included blood-brain barrier (BBB) physiology, new preclinical drugs, current clinical trials, new technologies, modeling/pathways/imaging, non-tumor applications, and new approaches for delivering therapeutics to the brain and spinal cord.

The presentations that included therapeutic ultrasound were:

  • “Ultrasound-enabled Drug Delivery” by Prof. Alexandre Carpentier (CarThera)
  • “BBB Disruption for CNS Delivery” by Prof. Kullervo Hynynen (Sunnybrook Research Institute and the University of Toronto)
  • “Low Intensity Pulsed Ultrasound Enhances Blood-brain Barrier Opening and Improves Response to Immunotherapy for Glioblastoma” by Aria Sabbagh (University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center)
  • “Biophysical Effects of Ultrasound as Aids to Therapeutic Delivery” by William (Jamie) Tyler (Arizona State University)
  • “Focused Ultrasound – Opening the Blood-brain Barrier” by Ali Rezai (Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute at West Virginia University)

The meeting provided immense opportunity to network and learn about ongoing work for treating patients with brain tumors. For example, Dr. Leblang spoke with Nader Sanai, MD, a neurosurgical oncologist at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, who will be collaborating with the Ivy Foundation to begin a study in 2020 on the use of sonodynamic therapy for glioblastoma treatment. The group will use Insightec’s focused ultrasound system and 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) technology from SonALASense, Inc. 5-ALA is a compound that accumulates in and “lights up” malignant glioma cells and thus used routinely to direct precise surgical resection. However, when focused ultrasound is applied to a tumor with 5-ALA, it activates the 5- ALA into a chemical form that kills the tumor cells. This new use of 5-ALA may kill the microscopic tumor cells in the periphery of the tumor bed that cannot be resected and usually leads to the recurrence or may help kill tumor cells in patients where surgical resection is not possible.

2019 Annual Scientific Meeting and Education Day
From Friday, November 22, through Sunday, November 24, the theme of the main scientific program was “Innovation to Overcome Tumor Resistance.” The meeting program, list of keynote speakers, and educational sessions can be found on the meeting website.

Natasha Sheybani, a PhD candidate in the Rich Price Laboratory at the University of Virginia, attended these sessions. “The meeting held true to its theme ‘Innovation to Overcome Tumor Resistance,’” said Sheybani. “The presentations and keynotes shed light on the bottlenecks constraining targeted therapy for brain tumors. Dr. Patrick Wen’s memorable keynote presentation emphasized that the standard of care for glioblastoma has only slightly advanced over the last several decades. He emphasized the promise of immunotherapy, the utility of molecular imaging as a tool for noninvasively assessing pharmacodynamics, and paramount future clinical trial design considerations. His topics were particularly compelling and salient for the focused ultrasound community at these early stages of pre-clinical and clinical development across areas such as BBB opening and immunomodulation/therapy.”

The presentations that included focused ultrasound were:

  • “Neuronavigation-guided Focused Ultrasound (NaviFUS) for Transcranial Blood-Brain Barrier Opening Clinical Trial in Recurrent Glioblastoma Patients” by Kuo-Chen Wei
  • “Ultrasound-Sensitizing Nanoparticle Complex for Overcoming the Blood-brain Barrier: An Effective Drug Delivery System” by Chae-Yong Kim
  • “Evaluation the Combination Effect of Radiation and Focused Ultrasound in Treatment of Brain Tumor Model Animals” by Chiungyin Huang
  • “A phase 1/2 Study to Evaluate the Safety and Efficacy of Blood-brain Barrier (BBB) Opening with a Nine-emitter Implantable Ultrasound Device in Recurrent Glioblastoma Patients Prior to Carboplatin” by Alexandre Carpentier
  • “Immuno-stimulation through Surgically Administered Mechanical High Intensity Focused Ultrasound” by Clark C. Chen
  • “Ultrasound-delivered Albumin-bound Paclitaxel Extends Survival in Malignant Glioma Models and Outperforms Ultrasound-delivered Cremophor Paclitaxel in Bio-distribution and Safety” by Adam Sonabend
  • “Ultrasound-facilitated Drug Delivery Device for Local Drug Infusion Against Brain Tumors” by Ryuta Saito