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New Method Gets Meds to Brain Tumors


The approach effectively delivers anti-cancer drugs across the blood-brain barrier in mice.

Researchers have demonstrated in mice a new approach for delivering medication across the blood-brain barrier to treat tumors that cause aggressive, lethal brain cancer.

In a new study, the researchers show how a modified peptide, in mice, helps a cancer drug pass through the blood-brain barrier, which is known to be extremely difficult to penetrate and thus serves as a massive hindrance to treating brain tumors. The study was published online in advance of the December issue of the Journal of Controlled Release.

“We were not only able to get a drug into the brain, but to deliver it at a concentration that should be able to kill tumor cells,” says Sean Lawler, PhD, the senior author and associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, whose lab investigates therapeutic approaches for the treatment of brain cancer.

Brain malignancies are some of the most lethal forms of cancer, as well as the hardest to treat. Glioblastoma is the most common malignant brain cancer—it’s highly aggressive, and most patients live for only around 15 months after diagnosis. Despite the poor prognosis, Lawler says, there has been frustratingly little progress in treating glioblastoma and improving the chances of survival over the past 20 years.

“We think this is a significant finding that could ultimately inform new approaches to treating people who face some of the most severe brain cancer diagnoses,” says Lawler, who co-leads the Central Nervous System Cancer Translational Disease Research Group at the Legorreta Cancer Center.

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