It’s officially a tradition: The Neuroscience and Medicine Symposium was hosted for the second year at Columbia University Irving Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
The daylong event, geared toward nurses and medical students, featured an array of speakers who delivered an outstanding program about the many faces of neuroscience and healthcare. Presenters included a non-medical speaker who survived a ruptured aneurysm at age 32, a chaplain from pastoral care, and doctors and nurses from departments including Neurology, Intensive Care, Psychiatry, Neuroscience and Neurosurgery.
“At Columbia, we provide the best care in the country and the newest therapies to help heal our patients,” says event organizer Evelyn Choy, a clinical nurse manager in Columbia’s Neuroscience & Medicine Divisions. “We wanted to create a forum where our talented healthcare providers could share this,” she explains. “We also wanted to create a space where we could share the newest research being done on campus by both M.D.s and R.N.s.”
Neurosurgeon Dr. Jeffrey Bruce gave one such research presentation, about the incredible advances happening right now in the Bartoli Brain Tumor Lab. Dr. Bruce and his colleagues in Bartoli are working on ways to deliver anti-tumor drugs directly to brain tumors.
This method of treatment, called “local delivery,” has many advantages over traditional chemotherapy, which relies on the bloodstream to disperse the drug throughout the body. The system-wide side effects of local delivery are lower, for one thing—the drug is delivered at a high concentration exactly where it’s needed and exists in limited or no amounts in the rest of the body. That means goodbye to traditional chemotherapy side effects like nausea and hair loss.
Local delivery also solves the problem of transporting chemotherapy drugs from the blood into the brain. The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a natural protective mechanism that allows only certain molecules to cross from the bloodstream into the brain. In general, the BBB does a great job of keeping out toxins, but unfortunately this efficient work includes blocking out most chemotherapy drugs too. Local delivery of tumor drugs bypasses the BBB, putting the drugs right where they’re needed, into the brain.
There are many technical hurdles to overcome to make local delivery of anti-tumor drugs for brain tumors feasible as a standard treatment. But the potential benefits are immense, and the he dedicated researchers in the Bartoli Lab are making great advances.
Dr. Bruce was glad to share the latest updates about Bartoli’s advances in this area with the Symposium’s attendees. Organizers hope to make next year’s event open to the general public—so if you have an interest in neuroscience, medicine and the latest research, stay tuned!
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