New Study Makes Important Step Toward Treatment of Glioblastoma

A new study by the Ivy Brain Tumor Center at Barrow Neurological Institute found that recently approved drug ribociclib may be an important part of treatment for glioblastoma, one of the deadliest cancers in the world.

Glioblastomas remain incurable due to the complex nature of these tumors, the inability of drugs to penetrate the brain tissue, and the lack of correlation between animal models and the human condition. In an innovative phase 0/2 study led by Dr. Nader Sanai, the director of the Ivy Brain Tumor Center at Barrow Neurological Institute, the drug ribociclib, recently approved for breast cancer, was shown to penetrate the brain tumor, providing first evidence of clinically relevant activity of this drug in human glioblastoma.

photograph of phoenix brain tumor expert nader sanai

Nader Sanai, MD
Director, Ivy Brain Tumor Center

Data from this study suggests that even though ribociclib is able to get to the tumor region and stop tumor cells from dividing, some tumor cells are able to escape the treatment.

“This is an important early step in the center’s journey to creating the first ever drug cocktail that would effectively treat these types of brain tumors, reducing them to a chronic disease” says Dr. Sanai.

The Ivy Brain Tumor Center arrived at these results through the use of a phase 0 clinical trial, an often misunderstood piece of the clinical trial process. The phase 0 trial design keeps in mind the importance of time for brain tumor patients and spares them from investing precious time, effort, and energy in therapies that don’t work. The center is the first and only research body to do this type of study on this type of drug.

The Ivy Brain Tumor Center was founded in 2018 to provide new treatment avenues and hope for glioblastoma patients and is home to the largest phase 0 clinical trials program in the world for brain tumor patients. These studies are funded by the Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation, in partnership with the Barrow Neurological Foundation.


The Ivy Brain Tumor Center is an advanced clinical trials and research program that offers rapid, state-of-the-art treatment for patients with the most aggressive brain tumors. The center runs the largest phase 0 clinical trials program in the world, using exploratory studies to help speed up and streamline the drug testing and approval process.The center’s singular goal is to develop new therapies and treatments that target individual brain tumors, allowing for unique care to every patient. The center does this by featuring the most advanced scientific and technical techniques available, including many pioneered by the center itself.


Barrow Neurological Institute at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix is internationally recognized as a leader in neurosurgery, neurology, neurological research, and patient care. Consistently voted among the top facilities in the United States for neurological care, Barrow treats patients with a wide range of neurological conditions, including brain and spinal tumors, cerebrovascular conditions, concussions, and neuromuscular disorders. Our surgeons perform more neurosurgeries annually than any hospital in the nation.


The mission of the Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation is to improve the quality of life and increase the life expectancy of people diagnosed with brain tumors. The foundation funds cutting-edge research that will improve diagnostics and treatment options for patients with brain cancer. Since 2005, the foundation has committed more than $91 million to brain tumor research, with the expectation that this will lead to an eventual cure.

About Barrow Neurological Institute
Since our doors opened as a regional specialty center in 1962, we have grown into one of the premier destinations in the world for neurology and neurosurgery. Our experienced, highly skilled, and comprehensive team of neurological specialists can provide you with a complete spectrum of care–from diagnosis through outpatient neurorehabilitation–under one roof. Barrow Neurological Institute: Discover. Educate. Heal.