Your Donations in Action: Evan Calabrese, MD, PhD

Guiding individualized therapy in diffuse gliomas

Evan Calabrese MD PhD

Diffuse gliomas are the most common primary brain malignancies, yet treatment options remain limited. Recent improvements in the understanding of diffuse glioma genetics have paved the way for numerous clinical trials of precision therapies targeted to specific tumor genetic biomarkers.

Individualized tumor genetic assessment is rapidly becoming essential for accurate prognosis and for guiding emerging targeted therapies. Unfortunately, challenges remain for widespread tumor genetic testing due to costs and the need for tissue sampling.

In his 2020 Bracco Diagnostics Inc. grant project, “MR Imaging Deep Learning and Radiomics Features for Guiding Individualized Therapy in Diffuse Gliomas,” Evan Calabrese, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Radiology, Division of Neuroradiology, at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC, and colleagues sought to address the increasing need for rapid, automated, non-invasive identification of specific diffuse glioma genetic biomarkers to aid in tumor assessment.

The researchers used multimodal MRI and AI to predict clinically relevant diffuse glioma genetic biomarkers. Specifically, they focused on prediction of two common biomarkers that are being used to guide targeted therapies in ongoing clinical trials: EGFR amplification and CDKN2 loss.

The results of their work will ultimately help to facilitate the deployment of investigational targeted therapies to a broader patient population. “In addition, the methods developed here will be readily applicable for predicting many other clinically relevant genetic biomarkers using non-invasive brain imaging data, which may be useful for guiding treatments or informing individualized prognosis,” Dr. Calabrese said.

Dr. Calabrese is also a member of the core faculty at the Duke Center for Artificial Intelligence in Radiology (DAIR). The R&E Foundation grant helped accelerate his research by providing support for personnel and computational resources. “The grant played an important role in me receiving a research tract academic job as well as a subsequent early career development grant,” Dr. Calabrese said.

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