Ivy Glioblastoma Atlas Project Update

Today I would like to update the Braincancer.org community about a wonderful resource that was recently released based on 5 years of diligent research from my own institution, The Ben and Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment, and The Allen Brain Institute here in Seattle. Based on a vision by my predecessor, Dr. Greg Foltz, these two world-class organizations decided to build an atlas of glioblastoma biology, using patient tissues. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150514102805.htm

The goal of the atlas was to analyze at the microscopic level, thousands of sections of different glioblastoma and to understand the molecular biology and gene expression of these tumors at the cellular level. This work has led to a new understanding of the biology of these tumors.

In a nutshell, whereas we previously understood glioblastoma is put into 4 or 5 categories based on Gene expression analysis, this new work breaks that theory down and gives it more detail. Our new understanding of the tumor biology reveals that the specific area of a tumor, for instance tumor cells that grow around blood vessels, or tumor cells that grow around areas of necrosis, are more similar among different patients then are those areas for any given single patient.

This represents an advance in our understanding of these tumors since it indicates that the regional area of the tumor is important in determining which genes are expressed by those tumor cells. Conversely, tumor cells express different gene products based on where they are in the tumor. This will undoubtedly challenge current paradigms in our thinking about these tumors and may reveal insights that lead to greater understanding of the biology of these tumors.

Remarkably, we have been able to link all of these patient’s microscopic tissues to other genomic assessments on line. Furthermore, all of these data are linked to the patient’s clinical status in terms of their treatments, MRI scans, and outcomes. This remarkable database has been released to the public on an open website for all of the world to see. The link is www.glioblastoma.AllenInstitute.org.

We believe that the brain tumor research community and indeed the whole cancer research community will benefit significantly by release of this data.  This will allow investigators all over the world to create new hypotheses and investigate new areas of tumor biology that were not possible previously. We are very proud of this work which was performed at my institution primarily by Dr. Nameeta Shaw and Michael Lankerovich. The work at the Allen Brain Institute was overseen primarily by Dr. Ralph Puchalski. The work was supported by a generous grant from the Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation.







Disclaimer: This is a personal blog. Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog author and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information. These terms and conditions of use are subject to change at anytime and without notice.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.



  1. Hello, I am wanting to know about Cannabis treatment in advanced brain cancer.
    My Uncle Richard Houser is in a hospital up in WA (near Seattle) with advanced brain cancer with cancer around the heart and lungs. We need help. He is on his death bed and its killing me inside knowing there are other treatments other than chemo which is killing him. I am reaching out to you for a little more information in the advanced stages of cancer and direct cannabis injections to the brain and other areas. I fully believe in medicinal treatments with cannabis and I think this could really help bring him back. My family has given up and believes he will die soon. They are all up there right now visiting and saying goodbye. We are from Texas. I am looking for help and recommendations of any doctors that are willing to help him this late in the treatment of his advanced stages of cancer. I do feel like the lone wolf in this situation. My family feels there is nothing more the Dr.s can do. I think otherwise. Please get back to me with any helpful information you and your team may have. I have read some of your blog articles and I agree with your opinions and research. Thank you for your time! Sincerely, Michelle C.

    1. Hello Michelle,

      Thank you for your message. We are very sorry for what your uncle is going through. We are unable to diagnose and give treatment recommendations without seeing a patient at The Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment at Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle. Your uncle would need to be seen by one of our doctors at the Ivy Center in order to give any recommendations. If that is something your family/uncle would be interested in, please let us know and we can help you set that up.

      Thank you for reaching out to us.

      Maria Barrett

  2. Dear Dr Cobbs,

    I am writing to you from India about my Mother (68 years old) who was recently diagnosed with Gioblastoma. The Tumor was in her left temporal lobe and she underwent surgery on the 6th of June 2015. The doctors did an gross full excision of the Tumor. Unfortunately Her MGMT screening has come Negative and the doctors here are saying that she will not respond to chemo therapy.

    We are currently planning for her next line of treatment with Avastin plus Radio therapy and considering alternative treatments to help her fight this deadly disease. I came across your article on “Valcyte” anti viral therapy and how it can help achieve an longer prognosis. I am really intrigued by the article and want to evaluate the possibility of using Valcyte as CAM.

    I have discussed this with our Neuro Oncologist and they are reluctant to add Valcyte as CAM. Given her age & her unmethylated tumor , would you recommend the use of valcyte in her case? I am planning to push our NO to put her on Valcyte but i am confused on the efficacy of this medicine.

    Please guide us through this troubled times.


      1. Hello Maria,

        This is Mayur Ved from India. My uncle’s case is very similar to Naveen’s mother. He has been diagnosed with GBM Grade IV and was operated on 22nd June 2015 with gross excision of tumour. It would be grateful to get Dr. Cobbs advise in this common situation for us on possibility to integrate Valcyte with CAM. Dr Cobbs work on antivirals for brain tumour is so inspiring and gives lot of hope for GBM patients with poor prognosis. I would also request if possible for Dr. Cobbs to comment if a Ketogenic Diet could help restrict tumour growth and if Cannabis Oil could be of additional help.

        Thanks very much for your time and please keep up the great work !!
        Mayur Ved

        Hi Naveen, sorry to hear about your mother and lets fight this out together. If I could be of any help please let me know. My contact no. +919820211139

      2. Thank you Maria..

        The youtube video was helpful. Look forward to Dr Cobb’s recommendation on use of Valcyte in my mother’s treatment.


  3. Hi Mayur,

    Thank you for sharing your mobile number. Will get in touch with you soon.

    Dear Maria,

    Did you get an chance to discuss my Mother’s case with Dr Cobbs? I would really appreciate if you can get Dr Cobbs opinion as early as possible. I would want to start my mother on Valcyte immediately if Dr Cobbs recommends.

    Here is an update on my mother’s condition

    last week she finished her first cycle on Avastin as concurrent Chemo with Radiation. Here neurological condition has improved since. Here speech is getting better along with her vision.

    There is no mortar deficit and she is able to move around on her.

    Look forward to your response.


    1. Hello Naveen,

      Dr. Cobbs is unable to diagnose patients and give treatment recommendations without seeing them personally. I wish we could be of more help. I would like to refer you to our most recent blog post from just today about CMV/Valcyte and Glioblastoma. Here is the link: http://www.braincancer.org/2015/08/03/cytomegalovirus-cmv-and-glioblastoma-brain-tumors/ .

      We hope your mother is continuing to improve and are happy to hear that the Avastin treatment has been helpful for her vision and her speech.

      I would like to refer you to the ABTA’s Inspire Board for a long thread of comments and discussion on the use of Valcyte in treating Glioblastoma. This is a very helpful thread with a great deal of information directly from patients/families who are currently using Valcyte for glioblastoma brain tumors. You will need to create a username and password for the ABTA’s Inspire Board and then you will be able to see all of the discussion on this topic. I believe you’ll find this very helpful and it will also connect you to many other patients/families as well. Here is the link: https://www.inspire.com/groups/american-brain-tumor-association/discussion/another-clean-mri-on-valganciclovir-valcyte-following-gbm-diagnosis/?reply_sort=desc#replies

      Thank you,

      Maria Barrett

  4. I was wondering how much of a resection was necessary for this study?my daughter was recently diagnosed at Seattle Children’s but we were told there was no resection that was possible other than the biopsy. She begins radiation soon and we are exploring all options.

Leave a Reply