Glioblastoma is the most common and deadly form of brain cancer among adults. The progression and complexity of the tumours are often difficult to treat and the median survival for patients is 15 months, with less than five per cent of patients surviving beyond five years. Scientists at the University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) and Southern Alberta Cancer Research Institute (SACRI) used human brain tumour-initiating cells from 100 glioblastoma patients to test a drug that could target the disease. Researchers found that when the drug, AZD8055, was combined with Temozolomide (TMZ), a drug already taken by most glioblastoma patients, it could extend the life of patients by 30 percent.
“Shutting off vital tumour growth processes can lead to the death of human brain tumour-initiating cells. Our research has identified a key process in brain tumour growth that we were able to target with AZD8055,” says Artee Luchman, Research Assistant Professor, from the University of Calgary.
The new therapy is used to inhibit a pathway in the cancer cells known as mTOR signaling and, combined with the current standard therapy, caused more of the cancer cells to die.
Researchers used the new therapy to inhibit a pathway in the cancer cells known as mTOR signaling – putting the brakes on this pathway, combined with the current standard therapy, caused more of the cancer cells to die. Scientists are now working with investigators at the NCIC Clinical Trials Group (NCIC-CTG) to start a Canadian clinical trial that may eventually include glioblastoma patients across the country.
"Discovering new pathways and therapies that can be tested in the clinic provides the greatest hope for brain cancer patients and their families."
- Samuel Weiss, PhD, Professor and Director of the HBI
Phase 2 clinical trials will begin as early as next spring.
With researchers hoping that this treatment will become standard practice for glioblastoma patients, in the near future, your return on investment is the most powerful one we can imagine: more moments for Albertans facing cancer. Thank you for making investments that matter.
Photo credit Riley Brandt