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Cottonseed-based drug shows promise in treating severe brain cancer

BIRMNGHAM, Ala. An experimental drug derived from cottonseed shows promise in treating the recurrence of glioblastoma multiforme, widely considered the most lethal brain cancer, said researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

The new results are from a Phase II clinical trial of AT-101, a pill manufactured from a potent compound in cottonseed that overcomes the abnormal growth patterns of tumor cells. This cottonseed-based agent must be properly dosed and monitored by physicians.

In clinical tests, AT-101 halted the cancer's progression in many of the 56 patients, said John Fiveash, M.D., an associate professor in the UAB Department of Radiation Oncology and the lead researcher on the new study.

Despite undergoing other treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, the trial patients' brain cancer had begun to grow again prior to starting AT-101 treatments. The trial-monitored patients took only AT-101 daily for three out of four weeks. Glioblastomas are more common in adults and are considered fast-growing brain tumors that are very difficult to treat, Fiveash said.

"After getting this drug some of these patients went many months without any new growth in their tumors," Fiveash said. "We are able to do that with a well-tolerated oral medication, and that is a major benefit." His initial results will be presented May 30 during the poster discussion of central nervous system tumors at the American Society for Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

Fiveash said the drug would likely work best in combination with radiation and chemotherapy to boost the cancer-fighting properties of those treatments. Also, investigators are trying to learn which patients are most likely to benefit from AT-101.


Contact: Troy Goodman
University of Alabama at Birmingham

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