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'Smart Bomb' Drug Knocks Out Brain Tumors

By    |   Tuesday, 24 March 2015 01:22 PM

An experimental drug has been shown to attack brain tumors, in a process scientists have likened to a biological “smart bomb.”
Houston Methodist scientists are reporting the drug works by crippling the tumor cells' energy source — called the mitochondria — and that early tests in animal models and human tissue cultures suggest it could be a new weapon against cancer.
The findings, reported online in the journal ChemMedChem (early online), indicate the designer drug called MP-MUS destroyed up to 95 percent of malignant glioma cells, without harming healthy brain cells.
Armed with these promising early results, researchers said they hope to begin testing the drug in human clinical trials as early as next year.
"We are very optimistic that we'll get there," said lead researcher David S. Baskin, M.D., director of the Houston Methodist Kenneth R. Peak Brain & Pituitary Tumor Center and vice chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at Houston Methodist Hospital.
"Our past work has shown that MP-MUS has very low toxicity until it gets into tumor cells. Once it arrives, it is changed to its active form, doing a lot of damage where we want it to, leaving healthy brain cells alone — a bit like a 'smart bomb.' To our knowledge, this is the first known example of selective mitochondrial chemotherapy, which we believe represents a powerful new approach to brain cancer."
Dr. Baskin noted brain cancer patients face long odds.
"It's a horrible diagnosis,” he explained. “Because of where the tumors are located, and because of the way they can infiltrate healthy tissue, surgery is often not helpful long term. The most effective chemotherapy drug available right now, temozolomide, only extends life from 9 to 15 months, and patients' quality of life during that period isn't very good."
Consequently, researchers around the world have been looking for new treatment approaches, such as vaccines to boost the body's immune system to target tumor cells, gene therapy and, in the present case, targeting tumor cell mitochondria — the energy-producing "powerhouses" of all cells.

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An experimental drug has been shown to attack brain tumors, in a process scientists have likened to a biological 'smart bomb' that destroys cancer cells.
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Tuesday, 24 March 2015 01:22 PM
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