Scientists have determined that a drug derived from a certain natural compound could help create a new way to treat glioblastoma, as observed in mouse models. Glioblastoma (glioblastoma multiforme) is an aggressive form of brain cancer that invades brain tissue.
The standard of care for this cancer is radiation, chemotherapy and surgery, which may alleviate some symptoms but doesn’t halt the cancer. The average life expectancy following diagnosis is roughly 15 months.
The study was a collaboration between different institutions, including Harvard Medical School and Brown University.
The compound in question, indirubin, is an active ingredient of Dang Gui Long Hui Wan, a plant mixture used to treat chronic illnesses in traditional Chinese medicine. Indirubin derivatives such as 6’-bromoindirubin acetoxime (BiA) have demonstrated potential in treating cancer through various mechanisms.
For their study, the researchers were focused on determining how BiA would affect the immune system in glioblastoma mice models. They observed that the drug’s administration improved rates of survival and also slowed the growth of tumors. Sean Lawler, lead author of the study, explained that the derivative targeted specific disease hallmarks, which meant a higher success rate if multiple attack mechanisms were employed simultaneously.
Almost a decade ago, Lawler published findings showing that indirubin inhibited glioblastoma tumor growth in mice. At the time, the researchers couldn’t explain the mechanisms behind this. Additionally, the formulation was hard to use, which made it difficult for researchers to accurately administer dosages and efficiently deliver the substance to the tumors.
The team of researchers involved also included researchers from the department of neurosurgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Cytodigm Inc., Phosphorex Inc. and the Legorreta Cancer Center and School of Engineering. Phosphorex is involved in the development of technology to enhance pharmaceutical formulations. The company has patented the BiA formulation used in the study, which could easily be administered as a cancer therapy administered via an injection.
The scientists are focused on testing the drug and observing its interactions with radiation and chemotherapy, with the objective of designing clinical trials targeting glioblastoma patients.
Other researchers involved include Mykola Zdioruk, E. Antonio Chiocca, Jorge-Luis Jimenez-Macias, Alexander L. Ling, Michal Oskar Nowicki, Raziye Piranlioglu, Katherine E. Manz, Weiyi Li, Kurt D. Pennell, Yuji Takeda, Marilin S. Koch, Paul Boucher, Bi Wu and Tomer Finkelberg.
The study’s findings were reported in “Cell Reports Medicine.” The study was supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Cancer Institute.
The findings of this research, together with the outcomes of other initiatives by for-profit companies such as CNS Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: CNSP) could deliver better treatments to patients who currently have limited effective options to fight brain cancer.
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