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Drug now used to treat erectile dysfuncton may enhance delivery of herceptin to certain brain tumors
Date:5/7/2010

LOS ANGELES (May 7, 2010) New research by scientists at Cedars-Sinai's Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute suggests that a drug currently approved to treat erectile dysfunction may significantly enhance the delivery of the anti-cancer drug Herceptin to certain hard-to-treat brain tumors. The research, published in the journal PLoS ONE, could help doctors improve treatments for lung and breast cancers that have metastasized to the brain.

While cancers that originate in the brain are relatively rareapproximately 22,000 patients are diagnosed with a primary brain tumor every yearnearly 10 times that many people develop brain tumors from cancers that began elsewhere in the body. Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., and about 20 percent of lung cancers metastasize to the brain. Breast cancer and melanoma may also spread to the brain, and once this happens, the cancer becomes extremely difficult to treat and the prognosis turns poor.

Even if a cancer is susceptible to drugs, these drugs must penetrate the "blood-brain barrier" if they're to treat cancer that's metastasized to the brain. "Mother Nature created this barrier to protect our brains from dangerous substances, but here we need to get through the barrier to deliver the drugs, and that's a problem," says study author Julia Y. Ljubimova, M.D., Ph.D., a research scientist at the Cedars-Sinai Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute in Los Angeles.

Keith Black, M.D., chairman of Cedars-Sinai's Department of Neurosurgery and director of the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute, is the lead research scientist on this project and senior author of the paper. He has studied the blood-brain barrier for about two decades, and his work in this field received the Jacob Javits award from the National Advisory Neurological Disorders and Stroke Council of the National Institutes of Health in June 2000. Since then, research conducted by his team found that t
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Contact: Sandy Van
sandy@prpacific.com
808-526-1708
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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