New drug discovery may halt spread of brain cancer

In glioblastoma, this fluid has a much higher pressure, causing it to move fast and forcing cancer cells to spread. (Image for representation)

Scientists have identified a novel drug that could block glioblastoma -- the deadliest form of brain cancer -- from spreading.

The tissues in our bodies largely are made of fluid. It moves around cells and is essential to normal body function, said researchers from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in the US.

However, in some cases, this fluid may be doing more harm than good, they said.

In glioblastoma, this fluid has a much higher pressure, causing it to move fast and forcing cancer cells to spread.

A common cancer therapy, which inserts a drug directly into a tumour with a catheter, can make this fluid move even faster, researchers said.

The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, may have found a solution to stopping this inevitable cancer cell spread.

The researchers used the drug which they found can block the way cancer cells respond to fluid flow.

They examined the role of interstitial fluid flow in the spread of glioma cells. Interstitial fluid is the fluid that surrounds cells in the body.

In labs, the team used mice with glioblastoma to test how a particular approach to delivering cancer treatment, called convection-enhanced delivery, caused glioma cells to invade the rest of the brain.

To block the fluid's rapid movement and the spread of cancer cells, they tested a drug called AMD3100.

The drug, which already has been used in clinics, appeared to be a game changer, said Chase Cornelison, a postdoctoral researcher at Virginia Tech.

This finding could lead to stopping glioblastoma from spreading, said Cornelison, who was earlier with the University of Virginia, where the majority of the research took place.

"I am hopeful that since the drug that we used to block flow stimulation is currently used in patients that maybe clinicians, when they do consider using convection-enhanced delivery, will combine that with this drug," he said.

"It (glioblastoma) is so deadly, and there hasn't been a shift in treatment response in decades. Something needs to change," said Jennifer Munson, an assistant professor at Virginia Tech. 

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New drug discovery may halt spread of brain cancer

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