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'Smart drug' targets deadly brain cancer

A study led by Mayo Clinic researchers and conducted by the North Central Cancer Treatment Group (NCCTG) reports that a new "smart" drug treatment for an incurable form of recurrent brain cancer slowed tumor growth in more than one-third of the 65 adult patients who tried it. The same research team also developed a screening technique to help predict which patients will respond best to this treatment.

Mayo researchers will present these findings at the 2005 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla. The NCCTG study addressed the most common kind of tumor arising from brain tissue of adults, glioblastoma mutiforme. Current treatment outcomes for this type of cancer are extremely poor: median patient survival is 12 to 16 months, and recurrent disease has a dismal prognosis. The World Health Organization categorizes fast-growing glioblastoma multiforme as a grade IV cancer.

Significance of the Mayo Clinic/NCCTG Research

This discouraging prognosis may change as a result of the rational foundation for new therapies the NCCTG research provides. Study data showed that in 36 percent of patients suffering from recurrent glioblastoma multiforme, the new "smart" drug behaved as hypothesized: It found its target -- tumor cells -- and actively worked against them to slow tumor growth.

According to the study's lead investigator, Mayo Clinic medical oncologist Evanthia Galanis, M.D., "Treatment was well tolerated, and imaging responses were observed in a significant portion (36 percent) of patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme participating in this study -- which is a high response rate for this very resistant disease. These early results suggest that we are on to a promising new treatment strategy that could potentially help us improve treatment for patients with recurrent glioblastoma."

Achieving the 36 percent regression rate was an encouraging result -- but researchers didn't stop there. They t
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Source:Mayor Clinic


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