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Adult cancer drugs show promise against an aggressive childhood brain tumor
Date:3/27/2014

nical trial."

Based on results from this and previous studies, pemetrexed and gemcitabine were included in a St. Jude-led multicenter clinical trial of children and adolescents newly diagnosed with medulloblastoma. The drugs are already approved for treatment of patients with advanced breast cancer as well as ovarian, pancreatic and certain lung cancers. No safety concerns were identified in previous studies of pemetrexed and gemcitabine for treatment in children with other cancers.

Most group 3 medulloblastoma tumors feature excessive levels of the c-MYC protein, which helps to regulate cell growth. The protein is overexpressed in many cancers and is associated with a poor outcome. About 40 percent of patients with c-MYC overexpression and other characteristics of group 3 medulloblastoma become long-term survivors, compared to 80 percent of other medulloblastoma patients.

"The drugs identified in this study will hopefully close that survival gap and improve cure rates for children with group 3 medulloblastoma," said co-author Amar Gajjar, M.D., St. Jude Department of Oncology co-chair.

For this study, researchers relied on mice with group 3 medulloblastoma grown from patient tumors. The mice were developed in Roussel's laboratory and are a powerful tool for testing the effectiveness of drugs against human tumors. Researchers used the mice to show that pemetrexed and gemcitabine worked against human group 3 tumors and that the drugs could be used in combination with existing chemotherapy agents to boost treatment effectiveness without undue risk. Cisplatin and cyclophosphamide were the other drugs used in this study.

"The finding provides a strong rationale for combination therapy with pemetrexed and gemcitabine for treatment of group 3 medulloblastoma," Roussel said. Researchers found no evidence that mouse tumor cells develop resistance to the drugs.

Pemetrexed works by disrupting the ability of cancer cells t
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Contact: Carrie Strehlau
carrie.strehlau@stjude.org
901-595-2295
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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