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Can Polio Be The Answer To DIPG Treatment?

DIPG Treatment, Poliovirus

“Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world,” said Louis Pasteur whose discoveries has saved the lives of many people.

Today, even though we are moving forward technologically at the speed of light, we still have a very long way to go. Finding a cure and researching better treatments for DIPG is the need of the hour. As many researchers and good-hearted Samaritans are doing their best to find a cure for DIPG, a team of scientists has found a new way to treat it in the study named, “Recombinant Attenuated Poliovirus Immunization Vectors Targeting H3.3 K27M in DIPG.”

A team of researchers at Duke University in North Carolina, led by Dr. David Ashley have developed an immunotherapy treatment that could be used in the future to treat DIPG. The study that began in 2017, targets the H3.3 K27M mutation in DIPG by modifying the poliovirus. This mutation is found in 80% of the DIPG tumors.

If successful, the scientists plan to use this treatment as a vaccine through injection into a muscle to trigger immune responses towards the mutant H3.3 K27M gene. This mutation is also present in other high-grade childhood tumors.

The efforts of these researchers were featured on two segments in CBS’ 60 Seconds. Dr. David Ashley who is the Director of Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumour Centre was awarded a research grant due to the combined efforts of ChadTough Foundation and Michael Mosier Defeat DIPG Foundation. More than 3 million dollars were required for researching this one method alone. Imagine the amount of money that would be required for multiple research methods and ultimately to find a cure for DIPG. Only through our joint, consistent efforts, we will be able to say goodbye to DIPG and give the gift of life to children.

Join Marc Jr Foundation’s efforts to raising awareness about DIPG and finding a cure for it.

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Sources (1, 2, 3)

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What Is Convection-Enhanced Delivery (CED)? How Does It Play A Role In The Treatment Of DIPG?

How To Make Your Child Feel Better While Facing DIPG?

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What Is Convection-Enhanced Delivery (CED)? How Does It Play A Role In The Treatment Of DIPG?

DIPG is an aggressive and a hard to treat tumor that is present in the brain stem. As it has no definite boundaries, treating it is very difficult as there is a risk of damage to the surrounding brain cells. Radiation therapy has often been used as a form of treatment for DIPG as it temporarily shrinks the tumor, thereby reducing the pain. A more advanced form of treatment, known as Convection-Enhanced Delivery (CED) is shown to be more effective.

CED is when chemotherapy drugs are directly delivered to the tumor. It is a technique that has been gaining interest especially for tumors like DIPG that are in a hard to reach location and difficult to treat. CED can pass the blood-brain barrier (BBB) which the drugs that are ingested orally or taken intravenously cannot. The blood-brain barrier is the membrane that controls what drugs can pass from the brain to the brain.

Four catheters are implanted into the brain through surgery and through these catheters the drugs are released into the brain. One of the major benefits of CED is the decrease in the after-effects of radiotherapy such as nausea.

Convection-Enhanced Delivery, Treatment of DIPG
How CED Works | Photo: frontiesin.org

However, compared to radiotherapy, CED is expensive and often requires funding. Also, it is not widely available because of the problems in monitoring drug distribution but several clinical trials are underway for the same. For treatments like CED to gain momentum, more research needs to be carried out and there has to be an increased understanding of DIPG. When backed by sufficient resources, the clinical trials and the research can get impetus and be available as a treatment option for all soon.

Marc Jr Foundation is committed to finding a cure for DIPG. With your support, we can make it happen.

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Sources (1,2)

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This New Drug Could Become The First Ever Treatment Designed To Target DIPG

New Drug For DIPG

A shocking fact – for about two decades now no new drugs have been licensed to treat brain cancer in adults and children! But this new drug could change things and become the first drug designed to target DIPG.

The scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London have been working in a new drug that can kill cancer cells. Trials in mice have been successful and clinical trials in children are expected to begin in 2021.

Five years ago in 2014, the team of scientists at ICR discovered that in about 75% of DIPG tumors, the mutation of ACVR1 genes is present. This is what made them focused to research a drug that could target this gene and so, hopefully, be curative for DIPG. Teaming up with the Structural Genomics Consortium in Oxford, they created a new series of molecules to target ACVR1.

Thereafter, they tested 11 prototypes of the new drugs in the cancer cells that were grown in the laboratory and positive results were seen in two of the 11 prototypes. These prototypes not only killed the cancer cells but showed very little effect on the healthy cells in the brain. When tested on mice, it was shown to increase the survival rate by 25%. A new company M4K Pharma has taken this on as their first project to develop affordable drugs for diseases affecting children.

New Drug For DIPG

 

Understanding the biology of DIPG tumors has helped researchers develop new and effective drugs to make life better for those battling DIPG. More awareness about DIPG and its research can make it a thing of the past and give the gift of life to hundreds of children.

Marc Jr Foundation appeals you to join hands with us to bid adieu to DIPG and not to our children.

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Source

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How To Make Your Child Feel Better While Facing DIPG?

DIPG, Children, Marc Jr Foundation

Facing DIPG is a challenge for not just the child who is diagnosed with it but also the entire family. For parents, seeing their child in pain can be much worse than being in pain themselves. Which is why comforting your child will help not just them but you as well. Here are five ways through which you can make your child feel better when you battle DIPG:

Do their favorite things, don’t mourn but celebrate their life:

It is difficult to accept that your child has a few months left to live. But it is extremely necessary that you accept this. It will help you plan for the coming moments beautifully. If these are going to be the last few months on their lives, you can make them memorable. Do their favorite things, make their life a celebration. It could be something as simple as building clay models or going on a long road trip. The distraction will also help them forget their pain.

DIPG, Children, Marc Jr Foundation
Comforting your child will help them face DIPG.

Be their strength and be an example:

DIPG majorly affects children under the age of ten. They are very young to understand what is happening to them. If you cry or be weak in front of them, they will imitate you. If you smile and be brave, they will do the same. A child will feel better when you accept the reality, be strong and make the moments of their lives filled with joy.

Cuddle and sleep beside them:

The symptoms of DIPG can make sleeping well difficult. Your child will feel better to see you beside them if they wake up in the middle of the night. Shower them with love. Tell them stories of brave people. Tell them tales of magic and fantasy so they can travel in their imagination. You can also buy them a cape and make them feel like they are superheroes on a mission against DIPG. This will help them a lot.

DIPG, Children, Marc Jr Foundation
You are your child’s strength.

Get in touch with an organization or a group of people:

One of the greatest pains of facing DIPG in the mind of a child is how they feel they are different than the other kids their age. Along with dealing with the physical challenges of DIPG, they feel left out mentally. Getting in touch with an organization like Marc Junior Foundation will help your child meet others who are also battling DIPG. They will feel like they are not alone. This will soothe them. You can also meet the family of the other children and share your feelings.

Be brave, Marc Jr Foundation is always with you. Your child is special, so are you.

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The Future OF DIPG: Research & Hope

Future of DIPG, DIPG

The 20th century produced a cure for a lot of diseases that were once considered to be incurable like Diptheria or Smallpox. The 21st century is more advanced with several scientific breakthroughs happening every now and then. At Marc Jr Foundation we believe that the cure for DIPG is not far. We have reasons to believe so.

Hundreds of clinical trials have been conducted to attempt to find a cure for DIPG. Not all of them have been successful but some of them provided us vital insights about the epigenetic and genetic mutations of DIPG. Mutations in the DNA are the cause of DIPG and the discovery of Histone H 3.3 and H 3.1 (highly alkaline proteins that order the DNA into structural units called nucleosomes) has been instrumental in understanding DIPG.

In March 2019, researchers at the University of Michigan were able to secure a grant of $429,000 to study an experimental gene therapy. The therapy would be able to enable a person’s immune system to fight the cancer cells if it works. It looks promising.

Future of DIPG, DIPG
The future of DIPG looks promising.

In another study titled “See the Change,” researchers at the Genomic Research Institute have been working on a method called “liquid biopsy” through which better diagnosis and monitoring of the DIPG tumor can be made possible. It can also help track DIPG in real time and measure the impact of treatment on the tumor much before MRI scans can.

A research, supported by Michigan Medicine’s Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Initiative found that a gene mutation known as PTEN plays an important role in DIPG’s course in the brain stem. Targetting PTEN may be the path to finding a cure.

Scientists at the Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University have found a molecule that could stop the development of DIPG. “BET bromodomain inhibitor,” the molecule used in this study, was effective in stopping the growth of the tumor. More trials are yet to be done to prove its efficacy.

The “BRAVO trial” where the clinical effects of a personalized dendritic cell vaccine made from the person’s tumor RNA combined with adoptive T cell therapy are being studied, is also promising.

The future is not so bleak. We urge you to keep believing and keep spreading awareness. It’s all about doing your bit. It’s how author Isabel Allende said, “We only have what we give.”

More such studies can be carried out and our aim to find a cure for DIPG can be attained should we all join hands together for the cause. Marc Jr Foundation is funding research to find a cure. Join our movement.

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Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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What Causes DIPG? Let’s Try To Get Some Answers

DIPG, DIPG Awareness, Treatment, Cure, Brain Tumor, Pediatric Cancer, Marc Jr Foundation

Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), is a type of a brain tumor that majorly affects children below the age of ten. This aggressive brain tumor that spreads quickly has no cure. Radiation treatment only temporarily helps alleviate the symptoms. Just like we don’t have answers on how to cure it, we don’t exactly know what causes DIPG. Finding the cause will advance our efforts in finding the cure.

Some cancers are caused due to environmental factors like exposure to radiation or smoking while others are caused because of inherited genes. In the case of DIPG, there is no evidence that supports these two causes.

According to studies, DIPG formation may be linked to the development of the brain. Certain cells in the brain are present in a higher concentration in the development stages. Research suggests that these cells are responsible for causing DIPG. As we mentioned before, DIPG affects children and this could be the answer to why.

Integrated Molecular Meta-Analysis of 1,000 Pediatric High-Grade and Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma - graphical abstract.jpg
By Alan MacKay et al. (2017) – Integrated Molecular Meta-Analysis of 1,000 Pediatric High-Grade and Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (Mackay, Alan et al.Cancer Cell. 2017 Oct 9;32(4):520-537.e5, doi:10.1016/j.ccell.2017.08.017, CC BY 4.0)

Furthermore, scientists who have studied DIPG, have identified the epigenetic and genetic mutation in the pons. When cells, that use DNA to create new cells or to carry out various functions in the body, are unable to do so because the DNA becomes damaged, it is called genetic mutation. These mutated cells are why cancers are caused. Through genetic sequencing, researchers have learned more about the exact genetic mutations that cause DIPG. More studies are underway.

Dr. Eric Raabe, at John Hopkins University, is studying the effect of this genetic mutation on the formation of DIPG. He has found in DIPG, the cancerous cells multiply more than necessary which makes the tumor grow quickly. Through his reach, Dr. Raabe found that the overactive behavior of an enzyme called TET causes the cancer cells to multiply more than necessary. This may be the cause and targetting the enzyme may help in finding a cure.

Join Marc Jr Foundation’s efforts to spread awareness about DIPG and fund research to find a cure for it. So that the next time, when we talk about DIPG, we can talk about DIPG survivors.

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Sources: 1, 2, 3

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DIPG Prognosis: What Will The Future Be Like?

DIPG, DIPG Prognosis, Brain Tumor, Children, Brain, Health, Marc Jr Foundation

Mahatma Gandhi rightly said, “The future depends on what you do today.”  That is how it is with DIPG. Our efforts TODAY will shape TOMORROW.

Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) has no cure, so far. When we talk about the prognosis of DIPG there are two views to adopt. One the prognosis of a child diagnosed with it and two, the prognosis of the medical condition generally in the future.

When it comes to the prognosis for an individual, exact prediction of what will happen is not possible. The DIPG patient may survive for few months. About 10% of DIPG patients survive for two years . Radiation therapy may help to prolong the lifespan by few months. Also, the prognosis can change at several stages of your therapy. The average survival time is of 9 months.

Michigan Medicine’s Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Initiative recently conducted a study. The findings of this study pointed out that the extent with which the DIPG tumor penetrates the surrounding tissue in the brain plays a huge role in determining the prognosis.

DIPG, DIPG Prognosis, Brain Tumor, Children, Brain, Health, Marc Jr Foundation
Let’s make the prognosis of DIPG hopeful, not disappointing.

More studies like these are being conducted by researchers to understand the biology of DIPG and find a cure. The future for this looks bright. Revolutionary application of biotechnology and bioinformatics in the field of medicine can help cure DIPG. Work by people like Dr. Michelle Monje at Stanford University and Dr. Nicholas Vitanza at Seattle Children’s Hospital, along with many other researchers shows that we are close to finding a cure for DIPG. But there is still a long way to go.

A child diagnosed with DIPG sadly faces the same prognosis as a child did four decades ago. Which is why there is a need for more research and funding that can back that research. That is one of the aims we have at Marc Jr Foundation.

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Sources: 1, 2, 3

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DIPG Treatment: What Are The Options Available?

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DIPG Treatment: What Are The Options Available?

DIPG, Treatment, Brain Tumor, Children, Brain, Health, Marc Jr Foundation, DIPG Treatment

No cure has been found for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) yet but efforts are being made to find a cure. However, there are steps that can be taken to ensure that your child goes through less pain. Let’s understand what is the current scenario and why certain conventional treatment options do not work permanently.

Why brain surgery is not possible:

  • Unlike other tumors, DIPG cannot be removed through surgery. DIPG occurs in the pons of the brain stem. A medical professional cannot conduct surgery in that part without damaging the brain tissue surrounding it, making surgery highly dangerous.
  • DIPG is not a well-defined tumor. It spreads between brain cells and has no definite boundaries. It also grows rapidly. This is another reason why surgery is not possible.
  • However, sometimes, when MRI scan results are atypical, a medical professional may need to perform a biopsy and extract a small part of the tumor for diagnosis. Also, surgery may be performed in case of hydrocephalus (build-up of pressure in the brain due to DIPG). Endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) is performed to treat this condition. When this is not possible surgery may be performed to place permanent shunts in the brain.
DIPG, Treatment, Brain Tumor, Children, Brain, Health, Marc Jr Foundation, DIPG Treatment
Until a cure is found, we at Marc Jr Foundation will not rest.

About DIPG and radiation therapy:

  • Radiation therapy is only a temporary form of treatment and the only one that can make the DIPG tumor shrink.
  • Radiation therapy can help provide relief from various symptoms of DIPG like nausea, fatigue, imbalance, loss of muscle movement, blurry vision etc.
  • After a short span of time, the tumor will begin to grow again. On average, radiation therapy increases the survival time of a DIPG patient by three months.

Experimental chemotherapy and its impact:

  • Around 250 trials have been conducted in the last three decades where chemotherapy drugs have been used on DIPG patients. However, they haven’t proven useful. Studies are being conducted even today in this field.

Alternative therapy:

  • Depending upon personal beliefs, alternative therapy options like acupressure, acupuncture, massage, use of herbs etc. can help in managing the pain that arises because of the growth of DIPG tumor or due to the side effects of radiation therapy and experimental therapy.

To know more about DIPG, you can read our other blogs and educational resources. Marc Jr Foundation is always there for you.

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Sources: 1, 2, 3

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5 Things About DIPG That Will Help Us Understand It

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Knowing More About The Diagnosis Of DIPG

Doctors, report, typing, medicine, health

In Marc Jr Foundation’s DIPG awareness series, we have written about what is DIPG and its symptoms. In this article, we are going to understand more about the diagnosis of DIPG. We know that DIPG is a rare glial tumor, a cure for which hasn’t been found yet. As this tumor occurs in the pons of the brain stem, usually a biopsy is not possible.

A patient’s symptoms clinical history along with a Magnetic Image Resonance (MRI) scan can help diagnose DIPG. Through MRI detailed brain scans are created which allows medical professionals to check whether a tumor is present in the pontine segment of the brain.

A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Machine

The margins of a DIPG tumor are not well-defined like other tumors. Sometimes a contrast agent is used before an MRI scan but it may not enhance a DIPG tumor. Once the presence of the tumor is ascertained, its position in the pons, its size, the way it presses on the brain tissue etc. are some of the things that help the doctors diagnose DIPG.

In rare cases, when the results of the MRI scan and the symptoms of the child are atypical, surgical biopsy may be performed. This procedure is considered to be very risky by medical professionals. According to The Childhood Brain Tumor Foundation, France used biopsies to diagnose DIPG.

Location of DIPG tumor in the brain | Source: medicpassion.com

 

Like DIPG, the diagnosis of the tumor is a taxing procedure that can take a toll on the family and the child. We request you to join our movement to raise awareness about DIPG and to generate funding for research to find a cure. It is a shocking reality that only 4% of the United States’ federal funding is dedicated for childhood cancer research, according to St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

You can volunteer, donate, or sponsor our events. Thank you, in advance.

 

Sources:

https://www.childhoodbraintumor.org/medical-information/diagnostics-and-epidemiology/item/272-dipg-2014

http://weillcornellbrainandspine.org/condition/diffuse-intrinsic-pontine-glioma-dipg/diagnosing-and-treating-dipg

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The Symptoms of DIPG You Should Be Aware Of

Young Sad Child

Awareness about the not-much-talked-about Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) can help in the diagnosis and pain-relieving treatment of the disease. These glial tumors, that are found at the base of the brain are most common in children. A related condition called “hydrocephalus” wherein fluid builds-up in the brain also causes pressure in the brain.

These are the major symptoms of DIPG:

Problems with eye movement, vision, and control:
 
DIPG occurs in the “pons” of the brainstem, causing pressure on the cranial nerves that originate from that part of our brain. These nerves control the facial muscles that are used to move the eyes. Other symptoms of DIPG related to the eyes are double vision, drooping of the eyelids and inability to completely shut the eyes.

Difficulty in swallowing and chewing:

The cranial nerves that originate from the pons, also control the facial muscles which are used to chew and swallow food. Difficulty in performing these two functions are one of the first red flags.

Problems in balance:

The balance system of the human body works when the inner ear, brain, muscles, joints and the eyes function unimpaired together. DIPG hampers their functioning.

Headaches:
 
It causes headaches, especially in the morning. As the tumor enlarges, it causes pressure and pain in the brain.

Nausea and vomiting:

Both these symptoms are a result of the increased pressure inside the brain.

Other symptoms like fatigue, anxiety, deafness, difficulty in urinating, problems in walking, weakness in the limbs, clumsiness, difficulty in sleeping are also present. Symptoms can get intense a month before diagnosis but can also appear up to six months before. As DIPG is a rapidly-growing tumor the symptoms can get worse quickly. It is advisable to seek medical help as soon as possible.

The Marc Junior Foundation has been dedicated to spreading awareness about DIPG, funding research for its cure and encouraging the participation of the people in helping those facing DIPG. Join our movement. You can also donate to the cause.

Sources:

  1. https://dipg.org/dipg-facts/symptoms-of-dipg/
  2. https://dipgregistry.org/medical-professionals/dipg-symptom-management-and-end-of-life-care/
  3. http://weillcornellbrainandspine.org/condition/diffuse-intrinsic-pontine-glioma-dipg/symptoms-dipg
  4. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/articles-and-answers/ask-the-expert/brain-tumors-in-children-8-warning-signs-you-should-know