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Killer cocktail fights brain cancer

November 25, 2013
Rockefeller University Press
A novel immune-boosting drug combination eradicates an aggressive form of brain cancer in mice, according to a study.

The tumor (dark region, left) in this mouse brain was eradicated (arrowhead, right) with a novel drug cocktail, according to a Journal of Experimental Medicine study.
Credit: vom Berg et al., 2013

A novel immune-boosting drug combination eradicates brain cancer in mice, according to a study in The Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Glioblastoma is the most aggressive form of brain cancer, and current treatments only modestly prolong patient survival. Immune cells called T cells have the capacity to attack and kill tumor cells, but tumors can counteract this attack by creating an environment that dampens T cell activity. T cells have ways of limiting their own activation (and thus autoimmunity), one of which is to express inhibitory cell surface proteins upon activation. In other cancer models, strategies to block these inhibitory proteins have been shown to reinvigorate T cell activation and thus promote tumor regression.

Burkhard Becher and colleagues at the University of Zurich now show that a two-pronged approach is most effective against glioblastoma. They simultaneously injected mice with a T cell-boosting protein called interleukin-12 and a drug that blocks the inhibitory receptor CTLA-4. The cocktail eradicated the animals' brain tumors.

Whether these findings will pave the way for a new therapeutic approach to treat glioblastoma in humans awaits clinical trials.

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Journal Reference:

  1. J. vom Berg, M. Vrohlings, S. Haller, A. Haimovici, P. Kulig, A. Sledzinska, M. Weller, B. Becher. Intratumoral IL-12 combined with CTLA-4 blockade elicits T cell-mediated glioma rejection. Journal of Experimental Medicine, 2013; DOI: 10.1084/jem.20130678

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Rockefeller University Press. "Killer cocktail fights brain cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 November 2013. <>.
Rockefeller University Press. (2013, November 25). Killer cocktail fights brain cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 27, 2017 from
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