New medications for oligodendroglioma

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New medications for oligodendroglioma

by c56young on Fri Nov 16, 2012 09:14 AM

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I'm trying to help my friend Sarah overcome anaplastic oligodendroglioma. Most of it was removed, but her oncologist says the tumor is still there, but staying the same size, according to her MRIs. She's having increasing, serious trouble with her balance, and I'm worried this may be due to diffuse spreading of the oligo cells.

I'm looking for new drugs and diet that will help zap the diffuse oligo growth. Already have several suggestions from Dr. Rosenthal at Dana-Farber, in charge of integrative cancer therapy. 

But I think we need some other strong drug. Or maybe just something to get more Avastin past the blood/brain barrier?

Drug Helps Defense System Fight CancerBy ANDREW POLLACKPublished: June 1, 2012

The drug, which now goes by the unwieldy code name of BMS-936558, blocks a protein called PD-1. Such PD-1 inhibitors “could be the most exciting clinical and commercial opportunity in oncology,” analysts at Leerink Swann wrote last month. That is partly because such drugs might be able to treat a variety of cancers.


RE: New medications for oligodendroglioma

by c56young on Sun Nov 18, 2012 09:14 AM

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About new drugs for treating oligodendroglioma, the following article from Scientific American Mind, from 2010 had three different suggestions all involving stopping the cancerous stem cells from either multiplying out of control themselves, or causing other glial cells to do so.

New Hope for Battling Brain Cancer

Studies suggest that stem cells sustain deadly tumors

in the brain—and that aiming at these insidious culprits

could lead to a cure

By Gregory Foltz

Scientific American Mind, March/April 2010

Aiming at the Enemy

Nevertheless, the discovery of brain

tumor stem cells offers hope to victims of

brain cancer, because it suggests that

treatment strategies that specifically target

those cells could kill the cancer and

prevent it from recurring. One of the first

challenges is to find better ways to isolate

brain cancer stem cells. The molecular

flags on the cells—which include characteristic

DNA, RNA and proteins—found

as yet are not foolproof identifiers. Not

all glioma cells that sport CD133 are

brain cancer stem cells, and

not all brain cancer stem

cells carry this marker.

Thus, attempts to isolate

these cellular time bombs

may miss some of them.

Distinguishing brain

cancer stem cells from normal

stem cells is important

for designing therapies that

eradicate the former while

sparing the latter, which

are crucial for regeneration,

for repair and (in the

brain) maybe for learning.

For example, doctors might

employ monoclonal antibodies—

Y-shaped proteins that help to

destroy invading bacteria and viruses—

that target surface biomarkers unique to

brain cancer stem cells. Such molecular

tags might also reveal whether a brain

cancer is more or less aggressive and

which drugs are most likely to eradicate

it. After treatment, tests that look for the

presence of certain biomarkers in the

blood or spinal fluid may also make it

possible to detect a recurring tumor before

it has had time to grow.

. . . . 

In 2009 neuro-oncologist Markus

Bredel, who directs the Brain Tumor Institute

Research Program at Northwestern

University, and his colleagues used a

systems biology approach to unearth a

network of genes that appears to play an

important role in malignant glioma. In

an analysis of gliomas from 501 patients,

they identified the most common genes

and genetic abnormalities among the

cancerous cells, along with their patterns

of expression. Many of the most active

genes, they discovered, are involved in a

complex system of interacting signaling

pathways that tells a cell when to grow

and when to stop. Certain patterns of

gene activity in these interacting networks,

they further learned, were associated

with better or worse patient survival.

They also identified what they called

“hub” genes that seemed to be key elements

in these networks, providing possible

targets for future medications. A

larger effort to dissect the molecular

anatomy of brain cancer is under way at

the Allen Institute for Brain Science in

Seattle, where researchers will be creating

a 3-D genetic map of these tumors

[see box on opposite page].

-------- BMP -------

Other researchers are finding drugs

that temper the toxicity of brain tumor

stem cells by coaxing them into a less

hazardous form. In a 2006 paper, for example,

cell biologist Angelo Vescovi of

the University of Milan-Bicocca in Italy

and his colleagues studied the effect that

a growth factor called bone morphogenetic

protein (BMP) had on glioblastoma

cells. In the normal brain, BMP directs

cells to differentiate, mature and

specialize. In their study, Viscovi’s team

showed that BMP had a similar effect on

human glioblastoma stem cells, causing

them to abandon their stem cell–like behavior

and become less aggressive. In

test tube experiments, BMP shrank the

number of stem cells within a tumor. It

also prevented the cancer cells from

growing into a tumor when they were

later implanted in a mouse brain. And

administering BMP after a glioblastoma

had been transplanted into the brain of

a mouse could block the growth of the

tumor and save the mouse’s life.

-------- Some anti-depressants and anti-psychotic drugs may interrupt signaling from cancerous glial stem cells ----------

Off-the-Shelf Treatments?

Intriguing new findings hint that

drugs used to treat certain common psy-

chiatric disorders may also be effective

against brain tumors—again, by targeting

brain tumor stem cells. In a study

published in 2009 Dirks and his colleagues

created cultures of glioma neural

stem cells on which they tested the efficacy

of various medications. In a trialand-

error screen of 450 approved drugs,

the researchers found that 23 drugs used

to treat mental illnesses such as depression,

anxiety and schizophrenia killed

the glioma stem cells.

These drugs all block or alter the

transmission or reception of neurotransmitters

(substances that pass information

between neurons), and that mechanism

probably underlies their toxicity to

brain tumors. During brain development,

normal neural stem cells need certain

chemical signals from their surroundings

to transform into mature nervous

system cells. Similarly, brain tumor

stem cells depend on chemical input to

survive and grow. Thus, such neuromodulatory

drugs may interfere with the

molecular messages that brain tumor

stem cells need to multiply and mature.

Testing of these neuromodulatory

drugs is still in the very early stages.

Currently a major effort is under way to

identify which of these compounds appear

most promising by screening them

against tumor cells in laboratory studies.

Once the most promising drugs are

identified, however, clinical trials should

start reasonably quickly because many

of these drugs have already been tested

for safety and approved by theFDAfor

other purposes.

Could an antidepressant treat brain

cancer? Dwayne Berg would certainly

like to know. Developing a new drug

typically takes decades, time that Berg

and other brain cancer patients do not

have. The promise of combating their

disease with available medications is

immediately appealing. Other new treatments

that target brain cancer stem cells,

too, remain unproved. Clinical trials for

many of them are just getting under way.

But for the first time in a long while, our

new understanding of brain cancer is

giving patients and doctors some degree

of hope

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