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Brain-penetrating particle attacks deadly tumors

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Posted July 3, 2013

Scientists have developed a new approach for treating a deadly brain cancer that strikes 15,000 in the United States annually and for which there is no effective long-term therapy. The researchers, from Yale and Johns Hopkins, have shown that the approach extends the lives of laboratory animals and are preparing to seek government approval for a human clinical trial.

 

“We wanted to make a system that would penetrate into the brain and deliver drugs to a greater volume of tissue,” said Mark Saltzman, a biomedical engineer at Yale and principal investigator of the research. “Drugs have to get to tumor cells in order to work, and they have to be the right drugs.”

Results were published July 1 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Glioblastoma multiforme is a malignant cancer originating in the brain. Median survival with standard care—surgery plus chemotherapy plus radiation—is just over a year, and the five-year survival rate is less than 10 percent.

Current methods of drug delivery have serious limitations. Oral and intravenously injected drugs have difficulty accessing the brain because of a biological defense known as the blood-brain barrier. Drugs released directly in the brain through implants can’t reach migrating tumor cells. And commonly used drugs fail to kill the cells primarily responsible for tumor development, allowing regrowth.

The researchers developed a new, ultra-small drug-delivery particle that more nimbly navigates brain tissue than do existing options. They also identified and tested an existing FDA-approved drug—a fungicide called dithiazanine iodide (DI)—and found that it can kill the most aggressive tumor-causing cells.

Read more at: Phys.org

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