PHILADELPHIA Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School have identified a novel approach of combining chemotherapy with a targeted therapy to decrease the recurrence of glioblastoma multiforme, the most common and aggressive brain tumor.
"Glioblastomas are horrendous tumors, and new therapies are desperately needed," said lead researcher Alonzo H. Ross, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and molecular pharmacology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
"We found that this double therapy of combining temozolomide with a Notch inhibitor was highly effective at treating tumor cells in culture and in mice," he added.
Results of this study are published in the September issue of Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Despite treatment with surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, glioblastoma prognosis and survival rates are poor. This may in part be due to the fact that some cells within the tumor cancer stem cells are more resistant to these therapies, eventually allowing the tumor to recur, according to Ross.
"We're both very successful and unsuccessful with cancer therapy; in most cases we can substantially diminish the tumor mass. The problem is that it comes back with vengeance, and is even more resistant and difficult to treat," he said.
Temozolomide is one chemotherapeutic agent that helps patients with glioblastomas live longer; two-year survival rates increase from approximately 10 percent with radiation alone to 25 percent when temozolomide is combined with radiation, according to Ross. Likewise, data have indicated that the Notch signaling pathway is often over-expressed in glioma tissue and tumor cells.
Ross and colleagues evaluated this double-therapy approach of combining temozolomide with a Notch inhibitor in cell culture and in immunodeficient mice to determine if this combination therapy enhances therapy
|Contact: Tara Yates|
American Association for Cancer Research