How to Destroy the Power Source of Brain Tumor

An Israeli study has eliminated glioblastoma, the most deadly brain tumors, in mice by identifying and destroying their “power source.” The Tel Aviv University scientists behind the peer-reviewed research are now working on identifying drugs to replicate the effect in humans. They hope to find an existing drug that may work and then repurpose it, which they say could happen within two years if things go smoothly.

The method is basically to “starveglioblastoma tumors by removing their source of energy, said brain immunologist Dr. Lior Mayo, the lead author of the study. He told The Times of Israel that normally, scientists try to attack tumors directly, for example with chemotherapy. “Instead, we decided to ask if there’s anything we can change in the tumor’s environment that could harm it,” he explained.

Astrocytes are brain cells that are so called because they look like stars. Glioblastoma tumors shifts the surrounding astrocytes to an unusually active state. Mayo, and his PhD students Adi Tessler and Rita Perelroizen, wanted to know what the astrocytes do in relation to the tumor. Using genetic modification, he could produce mice with glioblastoma tumors, and then remove all astrocytes from around the tumor.

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An image from the lab of Dr. Lior Mayo showing a glioblastoma tumor in white, surrounded by astrocytes in blue

“We found that when we did this, the tumors vanished and stayed away for as long as we repressed the astrocytes,” Mayo said. “In fact, even when we stopped suppressing the astrocytes, some 85 percent of the mice stayed in remission. However, among the control group, in which all astrocytes remained, all mice died.”

In the study, published in the journal Brain, the scientists suggest “that targeting astrocyte immunometabolic signaling may be useful in treating this uniformly lethal brain tumor.”

Source: https://www.timesofisrael.com/

US Wants Patients To Try Experimental Drugs Against Cancer

Sally Atwater’s doctor spent two months on calls, messages and paperwork to get her an experimental drug he thinks can fight the lung cancer that has spread to her brain and spine. Nancy Goodman begged eight companies to let her young son try experimental medicines for a brain tumor that ultimately killed him, and “only three of the companies even gave me a reason why they declined,” she said. Thousands of gravely ill cancer patients each year seek “compassionate use” access to treatments that are not yet on the market but have shown some promise in early testing and aren’t available to them through a study.
Now the government wants to make this easier and give more heft to the requests. On Monday at a cancer conference in Chicago, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a project to have the agency become the middleman. Instead of making doctors plead their case first to companies and then to the FDA if the company agrees to provide the drug, the FDA will become the initial step and will assign a staffer to quickly do the paperwork. That way, when a company gets a request, it knows the FDA already considers it appropriate.

We are here to help. We are not here to make a drug company give a specific drug to a patient. We don’t have that authority,” said Dr. Richard Pazdur, the FDA official leading the effort. But the agency gets little information now on how many requests are turned down and why.

Source: https://apnews.com/

Nanoparticles Cross The Blood-Brain Barrier, Shrink Glioblastoma Tumors

Glioblastoma multiforme, a type of brain tumor, is one of the most difficult-to-treat cancers. Only a handful of drugs are approved to treat glioblastoma, and the median life expectancy for patients diagnosed with the disease is less than 15 months.

MIT researchers have now devised a new drug-delivering nanoparticle that could offer a better way to treat glioblastoma. The particles, which carry two different drugs, are designed so that they can easily cross the blood-brain barrier and bind directly to tumor cells. One drug damages tumor cells’ DNA, while the other interferes with the systems cells normally use to repair such damage.

In a study of mice, the researchers showed that the particles could shrink tumors and prevent them from growing back.

What is unique here is we are not only able to use this mechanism to get across the blood-brain barrier and target tumors very effectively, we are using it to deliver this unique drug combination,” says Paula Hammond, a David H. Koch Professor in Engineering, the head of MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering, and a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.

Source: http://news.mit.edu/