It’s one of humanity’s cruellest and most devastating diseases but researchers at Griffith University may have discovered a rare chink in in the armour of aggressive brain cancer.
The breakthrough gives hope of improved outcomes for an illness notoriously difficult to treat and, tragically, more fatal among children than any other.
For the first time, it shows a possible way to overcome the natural resilience of brain cancer cells.
It works by disabling a ‘pump’ mechanism in the cells that expels otherwise effective drugs.
Lead researcher Sally-Ann Poulson says it’s the most exciting development she’s seen in her 20-year career.
“What patients really hope for is a drug that increases survival and quality of life,” Professor Poulson says.
“With treatment, the average survival rate is around 12-15 months, brought about through surgery where possible, radiation and chemotherapy with [drugs].
“Using this new method, we evaluated the impact on the overall survival and found it to be remarkably effective.”
Researchers have known about the pump mechanism in brain cancer cells for some time, and even developed a way to address it, but the side effects were too great.
Griffith’s new approach works by acting on a protein adjacent to the pump, rather than the pump itself, reducing its function without triggering the same side effects.
(The information in this article should not be considered medical advice. Please see your medical professional for information tailored to your personal circumstances.)
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