Washington D.C: A team of researchers may have found a better and more effective approach to treating an aggressive brain cancer.
Radiotherapy effectively damages brain tumors, but the cancer cells can repair themselves in order to live on. Researchers at Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center have tested a strategy that combines radiotherapy with a drug that shuts down the ability of tumor to mend themselves.
Researchers say their 12-patient study offers enough promise that a more comprehensive, phase 2 clinical trial should be conducted to test the combination therapy for aggressive, recurrent brain cancer.
Senior author Yaacov R. Lawrence said that they saw synergy between radiotherapy and the agent, panobinostat. The findings suggest panobinostat makes radiotherapy much more effective.
All 12 patients tested had high grade gliomas that had recurred after initial radiotherapy. Eight patients had recurrent glioblastoma, and four had recurrent anaplastic astrocytoma. These two forms of aggressive brain cancer represent almost 70 percent of newly diagnosed gliomas, which are diagnosed in about 10,000 patients annually. Despite response to initial radiation, most patients relapse within two years and overall survival is then limited to a year or less.
Panobinostat, approved for use in 2015 for treatment of multiple myeloma, is being tested in a variety of other cancers. Researchers found that the highest dose of panobinostat tested in patients was well tolerated, and they observed improved progression-free survival and overall survival.
“The intent of this study was not to demonstrate benefit of the combination therapy, but to test safety. Still, we did note promising activity, which must be validated in further studies,” Lawrence says.
The study is published in the Journal of Neuro-Oncology.
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