A drug which may lead to the development of new brain cancer treatment might have been found. Researchers from the Peter O'Donnell Jr. Brain Institute and Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center reveal that a drug called mithramycin can stop the growth of aggressive brain cancer tumors.
Brain cancer is among the deadliest type of cancer. Glioblastomas particularly are very aggressive and malignant. Median survival rate among brain cancer patients receiving treatment is about two to three years. Only 10 percent of the patients can live for up to five years at the longest. In the United States alone there are estimated 13,000 deaths from brain tumors every year.
Currently, typical brain cancer treatments include combination of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Some patients with severe forms of brain cancer are treated with drugs and radiation but they survive for only a year or more in average. Glioblastoma has heterogenous cells which makes it difficult to treat -- some cells may not respond to treatment.
In a study published in Cell Reports, researchers found a way to inhibit glioblastoma cells. They revealed that the chemotherapy drug called mithramycin can stop the growth of brain tumors. They added that previous studies on drugs to control brain tumor failed because researchers mistakenly on mutations of genes which is responsible for the start of tumor growth, RTK. The study found three neurodevelopmental transcription factors responsible for tumor growth, which includes Sox2, Olig2, and Zeb1.
"These findings change our fundamental understanding of the molecular basis of glioblastoma, and how to treat it," Dr. Robert Bachoo of the Annette G. Strauss Center for Neuro-Oncology at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and co-senior author of the study said according to Medical News Today. "We may have identified a set of critical genes we can target with drugs that are shared across nearly all glioblastomas."
They also highlighted that mithramycin can inhibit theses three factors. However, mithramycin has not been used clinically for years due to its side effects such as liver toxicity. Nevertheless, the study gives hope to development of new brain cancer treatment. The researchers added that repurposing mithramycin to treat brain tumors could take several years.