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New Drug Combinations for Aggresive Brain Cancer Discovered

Update Date: Oct 15, 2014 02:26 PM EDT

Clinical trials for glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer may begin as early as 2015.

Fuelling the demand for trial is a research from University of Calgary which has shown how a key tumor growth process can be targeted with medication to kill cancer cells and extend life by 30 percent in animals. Glioblastoma or grade IV astrocytoma is a cancer of glial cells in the brain. It is not easy to treat and leaves patients with a mean survival of 15 months, with less than five percent of the patients surviving beyond five years.

The process that researchers targeted is called the mTOR signalling pathway. By stopping this pathway with a combination of a new drug and existing medication, more cancer cells were killed during animal trials. The drug combination used was AZD8055 and Temozolomide, a drug that is being given to patients.

"Shutting off vital tumor growth processes can lead to the death of human brain tumor-initiating cells. Our research has identified a key process in brain tumor growth that we were able to target with AZD8055," said Artee Luchman from the University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine, in a news release.

"Discovering new pathways and therapies that can be tested in the clinic provides the greatest hope for brain cancer patients and their families," says Weiss, leader of the university's Brain and Mental Health strategic research priority.

Researchers from University of Calgary along with experts from other research institutes and drug manufacturer AstraZeneca are working on organizing clinical trials involving another drug called AZD2014 which is related to AZD8055.

"This is an important initiative - to test new drugs, being developed for other types of cancers in the laboratory to identify which are most promising for testing in patients with glioblastoma," said Dr. Lesley Seymour, Director of the NCIC Clinical Trials Group's Investigational New Drug Program.

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