Brain tumor specialists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center are poised on the brink of a new era.
The molecular revolution that has led to improvements in treating other cancer types is well under way at the institute's Brain Tumor Center. For the first time in decades, new therapies are bringing hope to patients and physicians. And at long last, glioblastoma, the most common and deadly of brain tumors, is finally giving up some secrets.
Encouraged by the finding that a new chemotherapy drug works best in patients who have no expression of a specific genetic alteration, researchers at the Brain Tumor Center are leading the U.S. arm of a worldwide study that aims to characterize as many as 20,000 genes and proteins that may play a role in brain tumor development.
They have other reasons to be optimistic. A vaccine that tricks the immune system into attacking a protein found on glioblastoma cells is showing promise in patients treated at the Brain Tumor Center. A clinical trial is soon to open on a virus designed to spread rapidly through the extended fingers of a brain tumor, killing it while leaving normal tissue alone. Another trial is studying a chemotherapy drug that can seep through the brain-blood barrier and latch on to tumor cells. All of these experimental approaches were developed at M. D. Anderson. Some have the backing of the National Cancer Institute as well as the interest of pharmaceutical companies.
Traditional brain tumor therapies also are being refined at the Brain Tumor Center with this next-generation technology that will offer safer, more precise treatment. A proton synchrotron particle accelerator will be online in 2006 to offer some brain tumor patients the most precise radiation therapy available,
Contact: Nancy Jensen
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center