Researchers discover new drug that could halt spread of brain cancer

19 Nov 2018

Image: © Christoph Burgstedt/

Researchers at Virginia Tech are excited by a new drug that could help stop brain cancer spreading before it can do even more damage.

Despite being necessary for normal bodily functions, fluid in our bodies can sometimes work against us when we try to contain the spread of deadly conditions, such as brain cancer.

With glioblastoma, the deadliest of brain cancer, this fluid operates at a much higher pressure, resulting in the cancerous cells spreading across the brain at a much faster rate. To make things worse, one of the most common types of cancer therapy – whereby a catheter places a drug directly into the tumour – can accelerate the spread of cancer cells.

However, a team of researchers from Virginia Tech are excited by a new drug that they believe could stop this rapid spreading of cancer cells right in its tracks. Publishing its findings in Scientific Reports, the team led by Jennifer Munson said that this drug can block the way cancer cells respond to fluid growth.

Reasons to be hopeful

The team used mice with glioblastoma to test how a particular approach to delivering cancer treatment, called convection enhanced delivery, caused glioma cells to invade the rest of the brain.

As it turns out, the team found that the introduction of this new drug, called AMD3100, resulted in the spread of these cancer cells being halted, and potentially offers a lifeline to future human patients with glioblastoma.

Speaking of the findings, lead author of the study, Chase Cornelison, said: “I am hopeful that since the drug that we used to block flow stimulation is currently used in patients that maybe clinicians, when they do consider using convection enhanced delivery, will combine that with this drug.”

Treatments for the aggressive brain cancer have been gradually improving over the last number of years, with research published last month by a University of Helsinki team finding that young glioblastoma patients treated between 2007 and 2013 had a 24pc lower risk of mortality than those treated between 2000 and 2006.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic