Clinical Trials

A major mission of our NeuroOncology Program is to contribute to advances in treatment of brain tumors through clinical trials

Participating in a clinical trial may offer you access to the most advanced treatments. In addition to receiving these treatments, participation offers you the opportunity to contribute to advancement in treatment for all patients including those who will be treated in the future.

At various times, we have participated in clinical trials of the following types of treatments:

  • Radiation in unusual doses
  • Radiation-enhancing drugs, which help to make radiation more effective
  • Experimental chemotherapy drugs
  • Chemotherapy drugs known to be effective against other tumors, but experimental for brain tumors
  • Gene therapy with the goal of "fixing" tumor cells
  • Immunotherapy treatment using a vaccine directed against your tumor

Most clinical trials can be classified by the phase of the trial:

  • Phase III trials are for treatments that are considered promising for brain tumors based on earlier testing. Patients are usually assigned randomly (with their knowledge and agreement) to receive either standard treatment or to receive the experimental treatment.
  • In Phase II trials, all patients receive the experimental treatment so that we can learn more about its effectiveness and side effects.
  • In Phase I trials, the best dose of a treatment is not known, and various doses are tried to learn more about side effects as well as effectiveness.

Large clinical trials typically involve networks of multiple hospitals across the country or even around the world, especially of treaments in a more advanced state of testing. Smaller clinical trials may be performed just at University of Michigan, especially of more innovative treatments. We participate in both types of trials.

We also conduct clinical trials of neuroimaging procedures, e.g. special types of MRI scans or PET scans, to learn how these can help us in managing patients with brain tumors.

Clinical trials are overseen by committees at the Medical Center to assure that they are well-designed, safe, and likely to advance our understanding. If you are invited to participate in a clinical trial, you will be given a consent form that describes the trial. Even though it may be 10 pages or longer, it is important that you read this so that you understand the trial. It is also important that you ask the neuro-oncologist or nurse any questions you may have.

Brain and spinal cord clinical trials are listed on the UMClinicalTrials.org website.

Some aspects of our clinical trial work are supported by our Brain Tumor Research Fund. We welcome donations to support our work. If you wish to consider donating, please talk to your neuro-oncologist or contact Pat Wilson at 734-936-7910.

Learn more about clinical trials and why they are so important by visiting our Introduction to Clinical Trials.

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