Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Combination Therapy For Brain Tumors Holds Promise For Longer Survival After Surgery

Date:
September 19, 1998
Source:
University Of Pennsylvania Medical Center
Summary:
Despite advances in neuroimaging and surgery, no major developments in the treatment of malignant brain tumors have been introduced in the past two decades. Right now, surgeons rely on radiation therapy after removal of the tumor to mop up microscopic cancerous cells that could lead to regrowth. Brain tumors, however, are extremely resistant to radiation treatment. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center have now found a way to make brain cancer cells more receptive to radiation treatment --by 60-fold in some cases.

Despite advances in neuroimaging and surgery, no major developments in the treatment of malignant brain tumors have been introduced in the past two decades. Right now, surgeons rely on radiation therapy after removal of the tumor to mop up microscopic cancerous cells that could lead to regrowth. Brain tumors, however, are extremely resistant to radiation treatment. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center have now found a way to make brain cancer cells more receptive to radiation treatment --by 60-fold in some cases.

"The goal of our research is to extend the survival of terminally ill patients and give them a better quality of life during that time," says Donald M. O'Rourke, MD, assistant professor of neurosurgery. "Following a diagnosis of brain cancer, median survival of patients is only 12 months with treatment." More than 17,000 new cases of brain cancer are reported each year, according to O'Rourke, and this diagnosis is nearly always fatal.

In a biochemical one-two punch to brain cancer cells, O'Rourke and colleagues inactivated a common cell-surface receptor called the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (or erbB for short) to arrest cell growth in human cell lines, which further sensitized the cells to radiation. This approach works in a similar way to Herceptin, the new breast-cancer-fighting drug awaiting FDA approval. Herceptin, a monoclonal antibody therapy, is based on the basic research performed by the laboratory of Mark I. Greene, MD, PhD, at Penn. Both strategies target mutated or overexpressed erbB receptor proteins that allow cancer cells to grow unchecked.

"Depending on which type of cell we used, we achieved between 20 and 60 percent cell death in cancer cells where the erbB receptor was first deactivated, versus zero to 5 percent in radiation-alone controls," reports O'Rourke. These findings were published in a September issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

ErbB receptors are a family of four proteins and are widely expressed in many tumors; but, when mutated or overexpressed at very high levels, lead to abnormal enzyme activity and deregulated cell growth. "The mutated or overexpressed receptors tend to be associated with cancers of the brain, breast, ovary, prostate, and pancreas," explains lead author O'Rourke. "There are either more receptors on the cell than normal or the ones that are there are more active."

The researchers are aiming for a more targeted approach than radiation and chemotherapy to kill cancer cells that remain after surgery. "ErbBs are a natural target to block," says O'Rourke. "There's more of a biological likelihood that we may impact this disease and minimize side effects using this strategy."

The group is currently working on several ways to inactivate erbB receptor proteins. One is a form of gene therapy to make cancer cells express a non-active receptor. "The second form of inhibition, which is even more promising, will be the use of smaller compounds called peptide mimetics," says O'Rourke. "These compounds are less complicated and work directly on the cell surface, eliminating the need to get to the cell's nucleus, as with gene therapy." The team is currently designing human clinical trials, notes O'Rourke, but they're still about six to twelve months away from starting trials.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Pennsylvania Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Pennsylvania Medical Center. "Combination Therapy For Brain Tumors Holds Promise For Longer Survival After Surgery." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 September 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/09/980919123043.htm>.
University Of Pennsylvania Medical Center. (1998, September 19). Combination Therapy For Brain Tumors Holds Promise For Longer Survival After Surgery. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/09/980919123043.htm
University Of Pennsylvania Medical Center. "Combination Therapy For Brain Tumors Holds Promise For Longer Survival After Surgery." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/09/980919123043.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins