Medulloblastoma research in Hamburg: new therapeutic approach for especially young brain tumor patients

Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumor in early childhood. Due to its genetic diversity, the course of the disease and the chance of recovery are very different. The treatment of medulloblastoma is often difficult - also because there is a lack of knowledge about tumor formation and development. The children who survive will have physical impairments throughout their lives – especially when radiation therapy of the head becomes necessary in the course of treatment. Therefore, the aim of young children therapy is to avoid radiation therapy despite its high effectiveness.

For young patients in particular, a new therapeutic approach that dispenses with the highly harmful craniospinal radiation could pay off. The research group around Dr. Mynarek and Prof. Rutkowski at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, in cooperation with partner institutes throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland, found out that children under four years of age benefit from a combined therapy of systemic chemotherapy and chemotherapy that is administered directly into the brain ventricles. The study results give reason to believe that combined systemic chemotherapy together with intraventricular methotrexate (MTX) not only minimizes long-term effects in certain entities, but also leads to more favorable survival rates. The HIT-2000-BIS4 study draws on data from 87 patients who developed medulloblastoma from 2001-2011 and were not older than four years. Sample material from Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schüller, who works at the Research Institute for the Children's Cancer Center in Hamburg and at the Institute for Neuropathology at the UKE, were used. In addition, the medulloblastoma specialist acted as an important point of contact for the evaluation and interpretation of the study results. “The exchange with Professor Schüller was always constructive and methodologically extremely valuable for us - due to his function as a neuropathologist as well as his expertise in the field of medulloblastoma research. Thanks to the close networking and bundling of competencies, we are able to further develop Hamburg as an important location for brain tumor research”.

Mynarek M et al. Nonmetastatic Medulloblastoma of Early Childhood: Results From the Prospective Clinical Trial HIT-2000 and An Extended Validation Cohort. Journal of Clinical Oncology, Onlinevorabveröffentlichung am 24. April 2020, DOI: 10.1200/JCO.19.03057