Brain tumors are notoriously resistant to most types of cancer treatment. Scientists have recently discovered that a drug that targets one form of cancer may also have applications for treating brain tumors.
Why Brain Tumors Are Difficult to Treat
Despite improvement in overall cancer survival rates, the numbers for brain cancer remain low. Scientists attribute this to the blood brain barrier, which is a natural filter that prevents drugs from reaching the tumors.
In a study funded by Cancer Research UK, scientists recruited 48 patients with glioblastoma, a particularly stubborn form of brain cancer, that had returned after treatment. The patients were given olaparib, a PARP inhibitor used to treat ovarian cancer, in conjunction with temozolomide, a chemotherapy drug.
After treatment, the research team examined tumor cells and found that the drug had penetrated the core of the tumor as well as cancer cells in surrounding areas. The results were significant because surgery is not possible for this form of tumor, so cancer treatment options are limited.
New Hope for Brain Tumor Treatment
According to lead researcher Professor Anthony Chalmers, glioblastoma disturbs the blood brain barrier, allowing olaparib to reach the tumor cells. Chalmers believes that scientists will be able to build on the results of the study to improve the effectiveness of current treatments.
Professor Susan Short of the National Cancer Research Institute adds that the study shows the potential of PARP inhibitors to treat a wide range of cancer types.
Cancer Treatment for Therapy-Resistant Cancers