DURHAM, N.C. -- In initial clinical trials, Duke University Medical Center researchers have significantly extended the survival of patients suffering the most malignant brain cancers by injecting antibodies directly into the cancerous region. The antibodies carry cancer-killing radioactive Iodine-131 to the tumor cells.
Although the treatment is not a cure for the cancer, called glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the researchers believe it will constitute a powerful new weapon to fight such cancers and could replace external beam radiation therapy for the tumors.
The researchers also have begun initial tests using another radioactive isotope, Astatine-211, that has been a far more efficient cancer-killer in laboratory studies. Also, Astatine's radioactive properties would enable patients to avoid isolation after treatment, enhancing their quality of life and reducing medical costs.
The researchers published their results in the May 28 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. First author of the paper is Darell Bigner, who is the Edwin L. Jones Jr. and Lucille French Jones Cancer Research Professor of Pathology (Neuropathology), and deputy director of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center. The research is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society and the U.S. Department of Energy.
"GBM is an extremely lethal cancer, with no significant advances in therapy in the last two decades," Bigner said in an interview. "Almost all patients die within two years, even with the best efforts using surgery, external beam therapy and chemotherapy.
"However, we believe that these initial studies represent a proof of concept of this technique, and offer the potential for significant improvement in survival time for patients with this aggressive cancer."
According to Bigner, the Duke treatment, which was done on 34 patients,
began with the careful surgical removal of a patient's main tu
Contact: Karen Hines