“Health Tomorrow” segment: Brain Surgery

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The Ivy Brain Tumor Center is part of Dignity Health’s Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. The Center is providing hope to those with aggressive brain cancer.

The Center is home to the largest Phase 0 clinical trials program in the world, and its new headquarters, opening in 2023, will become the world’s largest translational research center dedicated solely to brain tumor drug development and treatment. The goal is to get drugs to brain cancer patients as rapidly as possible.

Nader Sanai, M.D., director of the Ivy Brain Tumor Center and Director of Neurosurgical Oncology at Barrow Neurological Institute, explains more about the center.

“We’re here to provide them with care but also help them find clinical trials and experimental therapies,” Sanai.

Drug development in general commonly starts with animal phase of testing. However, in the case of brain cancer patients is more complex. This is due to the fact that the human brain can’t be compare to any other brain. Therefore, the phase of human trials is highly important in the development of new drugs and treatment for patients with brain cancer.

The clinic conducts what are know to be Phase 0 trials. For these, patients are given a small exposure of an experimental drug before surgery. This is done with the purpose of studying the tumor once removed and see if that drug did work in that individual patient.

“For all these drugs we have these elaborated tests that we formulate in advance,” Sanai said. “We get that tissue, we ask the two most important questions for any new drug.” These questions are: Is it getting to that tumor? and is it hitting the right targets in that tumor?

The Ivy Center is opening new headquarters for the community. “We are creating global headquarters for all of this effort downtown, at the Barrow Neurological Institute. This will be a home for patients and investigators alike. Patients will be treated in the same building that investigators like myself are really working on their problem in.”

The Ivy Center is partnered with multiple hospital centers within the valley and they also have affiliations with communities far and wide. The center continues to work along them in finding more efficient treatment and possibly the cure for cancer.

Nader Sanai, M.D., Director of the Ivy Brain Tumor Center and Director of Neurosurgical Oncology

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