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Taking the REiNS on Neurofibromatosis Clinical Trial Design

As neurofibromatosis clinical trials increase in number, the clinicians leading them are keen to design the trials to be as effective and meaningful as possible. A key part of this effort is developing the right trial endpoints – measures and metrics that can be used to determine if a drug or intervention is effective or not.  To tackle this area, a team of neurofibromatosis clinicians and researchers has formed  a working group called Response Evaluation in Neurofibromatosis and Schwannomatosis (REiNS). Spearheaded by Dr. Scott Plotkin (MGH) and Dr. Brigitte Widemann (NCI) and first convened in June at the Children’s Tumor Foundation 2011 NF Conference, around 30 leading NF clinicans and researchers participating in the REiNS met in Boston to continue their planning and discussions.

Past endpoints for neurofibromatosis clinical trials have included changes in maximum tumor dimension on MRI scans or changes in cognitive function on neuropsychological assessment (for learning disabilities).  Looking ahead, more advanced endpoints under discussion (and already being piloted in some cases) include volumetric tumor analysis and whole body MRIs; and the use of biomarkers – biological indicators in the blood or other body fluids to determine if a drug is working. REiNS members have organized into groups to focus on different measures and plan to meet every few months to continue advancing this project.

The Children’s Tumor Foundation is delighted to be investing in endpoint development through our Clinical Research Awards program.  Currently our funded projects include developing a computerized test for more accurate assessment of learning disabilities trials; identifying a blood biomarker of NF1 status; and developing measures of response for optic pathway glioma trials. We will be announcing more funded awards in early 2012. 

Clinicians or researchers interested in participating in REiNS can contact Vanessa Merker at MGH: