New Drug to Potentially Reduce Spread of Brain Cancer


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Glioblastoma accounts for about 15% of all intracranial brain cancers and even with combined treatments of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, it’s still one of the most deadly forms of malignancy. For best case scenarios, survival rate peaks at 15 months. Now, Virginia Tech researchers are proposing an ingenious way of addressing this medical problem.

The disease develops from astrocytes, brain cells that normally provide nutrition to the blood vessels supplying the brain. They’re also linked to maintaining the interstitial fluid, the substance occupying the spaces around the cells within tissues. This fluid provides oxygen, nutrition, and biochemical support to the cells and allows for cells to drain the waste products they produce as a result of cellular activities.

In patients with glioblastoma (GBM) interstitial fluid also circulates the cancerous cells across the brain tissue. The process has a convective nature and is dependent on a molecule called CXCR4. Slowing down this movement could lead to a minimized distribution of mutated cells.

The team used an FDA approved compound, currently named AMD3100, and taking advantage of the convective mechanism, managed to block the invasion of glioblastoma cells.

This innovative drug delivery method could significantly improve treatments and outcomes for GBM patients. At the moment, there are some approaches that work on a similar basis, involving the use of catheters to deliver drugs to the tumor. Unfortunately, these techniques can also increase the convective flow of the interstitial fluid, making the problem worse.

As with most experimental procedures, further in-depth analysis would be required before establishing a safe and effective protocol to treat patients.