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Improving Cancer Treatment

Researchers enhance therapies to treat brain tumors

Cancer Cells

Cancer of the brain is an incredibly deadly disease that affects thousands of children and adults annually. Unfortunately, brain surgery and radiation are very risky and have significant negative side effects. In addition, the only FDA-approved drug designed for brain tumors, temozolomide, has an effective “life span” of less than a year due to the development of drug resistance in humans.

Now, a team of researchers at Cleveland State University, has developed a new therapeutic agent that greatly improves the effectiveness of temozolomide. The agent, a DNA polymerase inhibitor, greatly reduces resistance and improves the overall effectiveness of the drug in destroying tumors, leading to significantly higher survival rates. The findings were recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Cancer Research.

“Two-thirds of brain cancer patients die within five years of diagnosis, and the risks and side effects from current treatments can be nearly as bad as the disease itself,” notes Dr. Anthony Berdis, associate professor of chemistry and biology at CSU and a member of the University’s Center for Gene Regulation in Health and Disease. “The combination of our drug with temozolomide has the potential to greatly improve both life expectancy and the quality of life for patients.”

Berdis’ team is currently conducting additional toxicity studies on the therapeutic agent, which will be required for future FDA approval. They will also soon begin tests on additional cancerous tumors to assess the effectiveness of the agent in treating breast cancer, leukemia and other diseases.  The research has been funded by the Department of Defense, the Ohio Third Frontier Commission, CSU's Office of Research, GRHD and Dr. John C. Vitullo's pilot and bridge funding program. 

“This research could have tremendous applications for addressing numerous types of cancers and ultimately helping patients live longer, better lives,” Berdis adds.