"Maybe there is a better agent than IL 13 itself," said Debinski. "Nature is great, but not perfect. Sometimes, we can make it even better for the benefit of our patients."
Other goals are to design tests to assist in drug development, so researchers can determine which potential drugs will be most beneficial in patients, and to learn if combining radiation therapy with drug therapy will improve results. Researchers also hope to learn how to not only deliver the drugs to cancer cells, but also to direct the movement of the drug within these cells.
Collaborators from the departments of neurosurgery, radiation oncology, cancer biology and pathology will participate in these studies.
Debinki's findings may eventually benefit patients with other types of cancer. The researchers have observed that some other cancers have the same IL 13 receptors found in glioblastomas.
Debinski's project is part of $4.5 million in research grants recently awarded to the Brain Tumor Center of Excellence. The goal of the center, which was formed in 2003, is to find better treatments and one day a cure for malignant brain tumors. In addition to its focus on research, the center provides a comprehensive program for patient care, and is the first center in the state to offer Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery, a knifeless approach to brain surgery and radiation therapy.