Pacific Brain Tumor Center Recruiting Patients with Rare Cancer of the Skull and Spine for Groundbreaking Clinical Trial

Brain Tumor Center affiliated with Providence Saint John's Health Center

The approved lung cancer drug pemetrexed is at the center of a new clinical trial at Providence Saint John's Health Center's Pacific Brain Tumor Center for patients diagnosed with chordoma, a rare, slow-growing cancer found in the bones at the base of the skull and the spine that is difficult to treat.

Two chordoma patients who received the drug – approved by the FDA for lung cancer only – showed promising results with reductions in the sizes of their tumors.


Drs. Santosh Kesari and Tiffany Juarez


Chordoma is an extremely rare cancer, diagnosed in just one in 1 million people per year, and can affect individuals of all ages. The standard of care is surgery and/or radiation, but tumors tend to recur after treatment and it also can spread or metastasize to other parts in the body. There are currently no approved drugs for the treatment of chordoma, which is why clinical trials that test promising new therapies are important.

Santosh Kesari, M.D., Ph.D., the principal investigator of the trial, is now recruiting chordoma patients who will be administered pemetrexed intravenously every three weeks. Pemetrexed typically is prescribed to lung cancer patients as part of a maintenance plan following initial treatment.

Dr. Kesari, director of neuro-oncology at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute, found through molecular profiling there is a certain protein that may be able to predict response to pemetrexed treatment.

"We have discovered a biomarker in chordoma samples that correlated with response in chordoma patients treated with pemetrexed," said Dr. Kesari. "To date, two of two patients treated with pemetrexed had dramatic shrinkages of metastatic chordoma tumors. We are excited to be partnering with Eli Lilly and the Chordoma Foundation to bring this new approach to the clinic."

The Pacific Brain Tumor Center is partnering with the Chordoma Foundation, an advocacy group which, among other services, supports well-justified clinical trials.

"Historically, treatment options for patients with residual, recurrent, or advanced chordoma have been limited and inadequate," said Josh Sommer, co-founder and executive director of the Chordoma Foundation. "The pemetrexed trial is a promising step forward in identifying more effective treatments for chordoma patients."

Eli Lilly and Company, the maker of pemetrexed, is providing the drug and funding for the study. The trial opened in September and will enroll up to 15 patients. Positive results may spur the expansion of the trial beyond the single location in Santa Monica.

"By building upon important clinical observations and applying discoveries from laboratory research, we hope to learn more about a potential new strategy to improve outcomes for patients with chordoma," said Tiffany Juarez, Ph.D., program manager for translational research.

Trial Enrollment
Adults 18 years and older with chordoma are invited to participate. For more information and to enroll into the trial, call the neuro-oncology clinical trials team at 310-829-8265.

About Pacific Brain Tumor Center
The Pacific Brain Tumor Center is a Center of Excellence at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute, with clinics at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica and Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance. The Brain Tumor Center, in partnership with the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John's Health Center, provides comprehensive care for patients with all types of brain tumors, including benign and malignant brain tumors, skull base tumors and metastatic brain tumors that arise from cancers elsewhere in the body. Physicians at the center are leaders in state-of-the-art procedures to diagnose and treat tumors.

About Providence St. Joseph Health
Providence St. Joseph Health is a national, not-for-profit Catholic health system comprising a diverse family of organizations and driven by a belief that health is a human right. With 51 hospitals, 829 physician clinics, senior services, supportive housing and many other health and educational services, the health system and its partners employ more than 119,000 caregivers serving communities across seven states – Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Washington with system offices based in Renton, Wash., and Irvine, Calif.

Media contact:
Zara Jethani
[email protected] 


Pacific Brain Tumor Center Recruiting Patients with Rare Cancer of the Skull and Spine for Groundbreaking Clinical Trial

Pacific Brain Tumor Center Recruiting Patients with Rare Cancer of the Skull and Spine for Groundbreaking Clinical Trial

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