|Emory Winship Cancer Institute is one of only two cancer research facilities in the country to conduct a procedure to determine how much chemotherapy actually reaches certain kinds of brain tumors.
In this procedure, a tiny tube called a microdialysis catheter is inserted directly into the patient's brain tumor. The patient will then receive an intravenous infusion of methotrexate, which is a chemotherapy drug. The catheter will be used to remove fluid directly from the tumor. By removing fluid for 24 hours after the chemotherapy is delivered, researchers hope to determine exactly how much of the drug actually reaches the tumor.
Methotrexate is used for patients with refractory and recurrent tumors. Physicians, however, are not certain how much of the drug actually reaches the brain tumor after an intravenous infusion.
A microdialysis catheter, which is about the size of a thin piece of spaghetti, is an FDA-approved method for the collection of brain fluid. Jeffrey Olson, MD, professor on medicine in the Emory School of Medicine, Department of Neurological Surgery, is the first surgeon in the United States to use a microdialysis catheter to measure drug delivery in brain tumors. This procedure is also being studied at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore.
Participants in the study are patients who have recurrent, malignant, high-grade gliomas, which are one of the most difficult types of brain tumors to treat and are rarely cured with standard cancer treatment. The American Cancer Society has estimated that malignant tumors of the brain or spinal cord account for 2.2 percent of all cancer-related deaths.
"The methotrexate microdialysis study will help us refine a tool that will improve creation of better treatment options for brain tumor patients," says Dr. Olson. "While providing methotrexate treatment for brain tumors, we are also hoping to gain extra information on the exact degree that this chemotherapy drug reaches the brain tumor."