News in brief: Brain cancer surgeon faces urgent disciplinary hearing; COSA ASM fully virtual; 3D printed tumours could replace animal research

Brain cancer surgeon faces urgent disciplinary hearing

UPDATE: Since this article was published, AHPRA has announced details of restrictions on Dr Teo’s registration. These include a requirement for a statement of support from a Medical Council approved neurosurgeon before performing recurrent malignant intracranial tumour and brain stem tumour surgical procedures. The restrictions also require Dr Teo to work under supervision and to submit to audits of outcomes of his procedures. More details here.

Controversial brain cancer surgeon Charlie Teo has faced an urgent disciplinary hearing of the NSW Medical Council over complaints referred by the state’s Healthcare Complaints Commission (HCCC).

The Council said it was legally unable to comment on the outcome of the “immediate action panel” relating to Dr Teo’s practice at the Prince of Wales Private Hospital, where he specialises in keyhole surgery for brain cancers considered inoperable by other surgeons.

“The Medical Council will not be making any further statements while it is in discussions with Dr Teo and any potential regulatory action is being considered,” a spokesperson said.

However in a statement released on Friday 20 August Dr Teo said he had “accepted the Medical Council’s direction to consult with another neurosurgeon on two rare types of surgery and will also have retrospective discussions with a colleague to review outcomes.”

According to the SMH, Dr Teo also claimed that the Medical Council had agreed that he had put in place “an advanced set of advanced office procedures, which are expected to become the benchmark for good administrative practice for surgeons.”

COSA ASM fully virtual

In yet another and no longer surprising COVID-19 casualty, COSA’s 48th Annual Scientific Meeting in November will be fully virtual.

The COSA Board has made the decision to jettison any in-person components to the meeting, given ongoing travel and border restrictions due to the pandemic.

“The health and safety of our members, delegates and sponsors is of utmost importance (COVID-19 or not); rest assured the COSA ASM will proceed with a powerful scientific program,” COSA said.

The theme of the meeting is “Cancer care and research: Learning from the past and improving the future.”

Virtual delegates can join live or access the content on demand for up to 12 months after the ASM.

Refunds of the difference in registration fees will be available for people who have already paid for a face-to-face registration.

3D printed tumours to “revolutionise” cancer treatment

3D-printed tumours could be key to rapid and robust drug discovery, development and personalised therapy screening, according to Israeli researchers.

A proof-of-concept study showed the researchers’ 3D printed glioblastoma had similar growth curves, drug responses and glioblastoma cell-genetic signature to mouse models versus 2D cultures on plastic plates.

The tumour was designed to emulate clinical presentations, and featured blood vessels, astrocytes, microglia and stromal cells which play critical roles in disease development, progression and therapeutic response, the researchers wrote in Science Advances.

The technique can be used to model other cancer types by adjusting the 3D bioink’s mechanical properties and could also be modified for “high-throughput drug screening with a special focus on transport through the 3D-bioprinted blood vessels”, they wrote.

“Our 3D-bioprinted model could be the basis for potentially replacing cell cultures and animal models” and “will revolutionise the way we treat patients with cancer by adequately mimicking the brain tissue and predicting the suitable clinical treatment to each person, which has special importance in tumours with short-term survival like glioblastoma,” they said.

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