for people ages 18-72 (full criteria)
at San Francisco, California
study started
estimated completion
Mitchel Berger



The prodrug, 5-Aminolevulinic acid (ALA), has been shown to lead to intracellular accumulation of fluorescent porphyrins in high grade malignant gliomas in the brain. On imaging, this accumulation of fluorescent porphyrins helps delineate tumor borders, resulting in the surgeon being better able to visualize and thus able to make a complete, or near-complete resection of the tumor.

Official Title

A Phase 2 Study of Aminolevulinic Acid (ALA) to Enhance Visualization and Resection of Tumors of the Brain


The drug, 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA), which leads to intracellular accumulation of fluorescent porphyrins in gliomas will be used under investigation for identification and resection of high and low grade gliomas. Surgery will be done using a modified neurosurgical microscope, with a fluorescent kit that enables switching from the conventional white light to a violet-blue excitation light for visualization during tumor resection. If deemed safe by the neurosurgeon, any area of the resection bed determined to be fluorescence-positive for tumor will be removed with appropriate designation of tissue for histopathological evaluation. After this resection, additional fluorescence images will be obtained and the process repeated until the image is negative for tumor. At all times, the decision to resect will be limited by clinical judgment of safety.

The desire is that a more complete resection will occur due to the surgeon's ability to better visualize and distinguish between tumor and normal tissue, and thus be able to remove as much, or most of, the tumorous tissue, resulting in a better outcome for the patient, or for future patients.


Glioma high grade glioma, low grade glioma Brain Neoplasms Aminolevulinic Acid 5-Aminolevuline Acid ALA


You can join if…

Open to people ages 18-72

  1. Presumptive diagnosis of high grade or low grade glioma based on imaging studies, or will have recurrent high-grade or low grade gliomas that have previously undergone diagnosis (astrocytoma, oligodendroglioma, mixed oligo-astrocytoma, anaplastic astrocytoma, and glioblastoma multiforme). Both of these groups will be undergoing craniotomy for tumor resection.
  2. Patient age 18 to 72 years.
  3. Karnofsky performance of 60% or greater
  4. Patients must have normal organ and marrow function as defined below:

Leukocytes >3,000/μL Absolute neutrophil count >1,500/μL Platelets >100,000/μL Total bilirubin within normal institutional limits AST (SGOT)/ALT (SGPT) <2.5 X institutional upper limit of normal Creatinine within normal institutional limits or Creatinine clearance ≥60 mL/min/1.73 m2 for patients with creatinine levels above institutional normal.

  1. The effects of Aminolevulinic Acid (ALA) on the developing human fetus are unknown. Therefore, women of child-bearing potential and men must agree to use adequate contraception (hormonal or barrier method of birth control; abstinence) prior to study entry and for the duration of study participation.
  2. Patient must have the ability to understand and the willingness to sign a written informed consent document or have a parent or guardian with the ability to understand and the willingness to sign the written informed consent.

You CAN'T join if...

  1. Subjects with a history of allergic reactions attributed to compounds of similar chemical or biologic composition to aminolevulinic acid (ALA).
  2. Subjects with a history or family history of Porphyrias
  3. Subjects with uncontrolled intercurrent illness including, but not limited to ongoing or active infection, symptomatic congestive heart failure, unstable angina pectoris, cardiac arrhythmia, or psychiatric illness/social situations that would limit compliance with study requirements.
  4. Pregnancy.


  • UCSF Department of Neurosurgery
    San Francisco California 94143 United States

Lead Scientist

  • Mitchel Berger
    Professor, Neurological Surgery. Authored (or co-authored) 420 research publications


in progress, not accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, San Francisco
Phase 2
Study Type
Last Updated