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Developing New Therapies for Ependymoma


How Clinical Trial Design Affects Ependymoma Therapies

Discovering new therapies for brain tumors requires cutting edge science as well as properly designed clinical trials. As a member of the CERN Foundation Science Advisory Board, Glenn Lesser, M.D., is focused on ensuring that discoveries made in the lab feasibly translate to the clinic for study with patients.

“My role is to ensure clinical trials give us answers when they work and further our knowledge and understanding when they don’t work,” says Dr. Lesser, a professor and director of Neuro-Oncology clinical research at the Brain Tumor Center of Excellence and the co-leader of the Neuro-Oncology program of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina. He joined the CERN Foundation board in 2010. 

Dr. Lesser has focused his nearly 25-year career on being a voice for adult brain tumor patients and a medical neuro-oncology clinical trialist. His work requires foresight, to think about the issues that might arise when bringing a new agent or approach to the clinic, and insight to know how to conduct and interpret the trials.

“No matter how many rats are cured of cancer we still must run trials in people,” he explains. “And whether it’s a trial for ependymoma or glioblastoma, we have to make sure the approach is feasible and cross-cutting.”

Ependymoma research advances

Since the inception of the CERN Foundation, many fundamental advances in ependymoma research have resulted from the support, funding and awareness of the foundation, says Dr. Lesser.

I’m Here!

By Shannon C.

CERN Inspiration Story
My first symptoms were masked during pregnancy.  During the birth of my first child, I felt this “pop” in my back and neck, followed by a sharp pain down my left leg.  I, of course, didn’t know this was anything other than a normal pregnancy symptom.  The following day, while trying to move about, I felt a drag in my left foot.  I noted it to the nurses who sent a physiotherapist to my bedside.  We did a few stretches and she said it was probably a trapped nerve in the hip from delivery.  This seemed plausible, since I had no previous experience in delivery.  The symptom remained at a very low level but never went away completely. I noticed too that I was unable produce breast milk after delivery.

Within a few months, I was pregnant again and this is when I noticed the symptoms increased.  I suffered terribly with pain in my back and neck.  I experienced a “swirling” pain starting at my shoulder and travelling constantly down my left arm.  I struggled with balance while both standing and walking. There was a notable loss of dexterity in my fingers at work where I was expected to count cash, I could no longer do so with ease or accuracy. Everything I did seemed to cause me pure exhaustion. Again, these issues seemingly could all be explained away by pregnancy.  I became concerned at a pregnancy check-up around seven months when I was unable to produce a urine sample.
I Began to Feel Something Wasn’t Right

As I neared eight months into pregnancy, I tried to get up from bed one morning and everything was like jelly. As I tried to walk, my legs were swinging in every direction except the way I had intended them to go, the pain in my back was nearly unbearable but it felt like I couldn’t feel anything from the chest down. I immediately went to my doctor.

Ependymoma Awareness Day is 1 week away!

The CERN Foundation will commemorate Ependymoma Awareness Day with a mass butterfly release that will take place on May 6 during the 2018 National Brain Tumor Soceity's Head to the Hill activities in Washington, DC. If you would like to attend the butterfly release, please RSVP to The butterfly release will be video-taped and posted on the internet so that supporters unable to attend can participate and share in this moving occasion.  
We ask that you encourage those you know to donate to support our mission. For every $25 raised, a butterfly will be released during the awareness day ceremony!  
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