Knowing that this protein is a key player in the chain of events that determines drug activity could be useful in screening patients to help determine the best candidates for the drug. Says Dr. Galanis, "This could allow us to customize drug administration to the patients most likely to benefit from it, and in that way, improve care."
A Smart Drug
In their study, NCCTG researchers used an investigational drug that is not currently available for wide use. Known as CCI-779, or temsirolimus, it is a "smart" drug in the sense that it has been designed to target specific changes in the glioblastoma multiforme tumor cells that previous studies have identified as key factors in the tumor's aggressive behavior.
About Glioblastoma Multiforme
In adults, glioblastoma multiforme is the most common form of brain tumor. Because it originates in the brain, physicians refer to it as a primary tumor. This is in contrast to a tumor that develops in the brain from cancer cells that have spread from tumors elsewhere in the body. Glioblastoma multiforme accounts for more than 50 percent of the estimated 18,000 primary malignant brain tumors diagnosed each year in the United States. When first diagnosed, glioblastoma multiforme is usually treated with surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy -- and median survival is 12 to 16 months. For patients in whom the disease recurs, the prognosis is indeed dismal: there are no good treatment options.
The Next Step
Mayo Clinic researchers are continuing to investigate the implications of their findings. NCCTG studies now under way will test the combination of CCI-