Dramatic reduction in tumour with new drugs

August 22nd, 2008 - 5:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 22 (IANS) New drugs targeting a specific acid can reduce the size of a brain tumour and prolong survival, scientists have found in animal trials.The drugs inhibited a specific fatty acid in rat brains. The rats were suffering from glioblastoma, one of the most aggressive brain tumours. The drugs not only reduced new blood vessel growth and tumour size dramatically, but also prolonged survival.

“These rat model tumours were developed from human glioblastoma cells and closely mimics human tumours in growth patterns and response to therapy,” said David Harder, lead researcher and professor of physiology, Medical College, Wisconsin.

“The concept of targeting blood vessels that feed tumours as an approach to limit tumour growth is not a novel idea,” he says. “However, blocking the specific fatty acid described in this study is novel, and holds great promise for use in humans.”

Harder and colleagues designed these studies on the premise that all cells, including cancerous ones, require oxygen for growth. Blocking formation of specific fatty acids would cut down blood vessel growth and oxygen supply to tumours, retarding growth.

Malignant gliomas are resistant to chemotherapy and radiation, and account for about half of the 350,000 brain tumours currently diagnosed in the US.

Harder believes that further studies demonstrating that such drugs work in humans may reveal that higher concentrations or infusions over longer periods of time may be more effective than the results reported in this study.

“If survival time could be extended, with a combination of surgical therapy and infusion with similar drugs, this could be a significant treatment option,” he says.

Earlier studies from the Harder lab have shown that specific fatty acids generated in the brain induce new blood vessel growth known as angiogenesis.

The study featured as a cover story in the August issue of the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism.

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