Potential new treatment for brain cancer

A recent study by Monash University has uncovered a potential new drug that may lead to new treatments for common brain cancers.

The study, published in Purinergic Signalling and led by Neurologist and Research Fellow Dr Mastura Montif from Monash University’s Department of Neuroscience, demonstrated that a protein (P2X7R) known to enhance tumour growth can be inhibited by using a specific compound drug, currently known only as AZ10606120.

Most importantly, this drug was more effective than the current conventional chemotherapy temozolomide.

Using both human glioblastoma cells and tumour samples from patients at The Alfred and Royal Melbourne Hospital, the findings give hope for an effective treatment to fight this aggressive cancer.

Gliomas are the most common cancers of the brain, accounting for 80 per cent of all brain tumours. Among these, glioblastoma is the most aggressive form, killing an estimated 225,000 people worldwide per year with patients only surviving for a median of 14-15 months after diagnosis.

Current treatment options are limited to surgical removal, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and only prolong survival by several months. Despite advancements in treatment, the prognosis for glioblastoma patients remains bleak.

Unlike many other cancers, there has been no significant improvements in therapies for glioblastoma in the last 12 years.There is a desperate need for the development of more effective therapies.

“Our future endeavours will involve testing in animal models, which will hopefully lead to a human clinical trial,” Dr Montif said.

“Seeing patients diagnosed with this lethal and life changing disease, and most of them being young and their whole life ahead of them, is the reason why I continue to pursue research on glioblastoma.

“As a clinician and a researcher I feel like we need to do more, and we need to act urgently to prevent more lives being affected.”