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2018 Oligodendroglioma Workshop Report

, by Kristin Odom, NCI-CONNECT Communications Editor

Dr. Jing Wu and Dr. Marta Penas-Prado

Dr. Jing Wu and Dr. Marta Penas-Prado


The NCI-CONNECT Oligodendroglioma Workshop was held at NIH, on November 19, 2018. Neuro-oncology experts from around the world met to discuss the scientific progress and challenges of oligodendroglioma management and find ways to collaborate to advance research and treatments. The workshop concluded with recommendations and an action plan that were summarized and published in a proceedings paper in Neuro-Oncology Advances.

The workshop was co-led by Marta Penas-Prado, M.D., and Jing Wu, M.D., PhD., of the NCI Center for Cancer Research's Neuro-Oncology Branch at NIH, and Daniel Cahill, M.D., Ph.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital.

“This was the first time that such a large multidisciplinary meeting involving scientists, clinicians, and patient advocacy organizations was held that focused specifically on oligodendroglioma. This is a huge step towards improving the lives of those with oligodendroglioma,” shares Dr. Penas-Prado.

Oligodendrogliomas are rare brain and spine tumors that occur most often in young adults between ages 35 and 44 but can occur at any age. Oligodendrogliomas represent less than 10 percent of all gliomas and have variable clinical outcomes, despite sharing common histological and molecular features within the same grade or classification.

Oligodendroglioma Workshop

Workshop attendees


Current therapies include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, but they usually don’t cure the disease. Little is known as to why some of the tumors resist therapy or what causes them to progress in almost all cases. Researchers and scientists are also unsure of the optimal biomarkers to determine which patients are at high risk for disease progression.

Developing new therapies for this rare cancer is challenging. These challenges include delays in diagnosis, lack of care standards, limited social and advocacy support, and difficulties in conducting clinical trials because of the small patient population. In addition, a lot of health care providers, even within highly regarded neuro-oncology programs, have limited experience with rare brain and spine cancers, including oligodendroglioma.

To overcome these challenges, NCI-CONNECT is working in partnership with the neuro-oncology community to develop an infrastructure across a network of national and international sites to study rare brain and spine cancers. The network plans to facilitate discoveries into new therapies to improve patient outcomes. The Oligodendroglioma Workshop is the first step to create a collaborative network to study oligodendrogliomas, develop clinical trials and ensure each patient is well informed and has the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial.

The workshop focused on three important areas of scientific progress: molecular characteristics of oligodendrogliomas, evolution and progression of low-grade glioma, and a general overview of clinical trial efficacy endpoints. After an overview of the disease biology and sharing the patient perspectives, the participants broke into four working groups to discuss issues related to advancing the field: establishing better preclinical models, data sharing and clinical research approaches, optimization of clinical trial design, and promoting patient engagement. 

Oligodendroglioma Workshop Discussions

Workshop discussions


“As summarized in the proceedings paper, the workshop discussion covered the key aspects of the knowledge needed to improve the treatment of oligodendroglioma: from the basic research, translational research and clinical research,” shares Dr. Wu.

The Neuro-Oncology Advances proceedings paper details and summarizes the Oligodendroglioma Workshop and shares the recommendations of the workshop, which include a multifaceted and interrelated approach covering: biology and preclinical models, data sharing, advanced molecular diagnosis, imaging, clinical trial design, and patient outreach and engagement.

Participants recognized the need to combine data, resources, and samples to develop better treatments for patients with oligodendrogliomas. The NCI-CONNECT program is well positioned to address challenges in oligodendroglioma care and research in collaboration with other stakeholders—and is developing a list of action items for future initiatives.

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