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Study Finds Anti-Nausea Drug Contribute to Stopping Brain Tumor Growth

Update Date: Mar 18, 2013 12:52 PM EDT

Brain tumor patients might be able to get a double dosage of benefits from their anti-nausea medication. According to researchers from the University of Adelaide in south Australia, the popular anti-nausea drug, Emend that is being used in cancer clinics to treat nausea induced by chemotherapy might also be able to stop the growth of brain cancer cells. The head researcher, Dr. Elizabeth Hartford-Wright is optimistic about the findings and their contributions to future treatments for brain tumors.

Hartford-Wright, who is a postdoctoral fellow at the University's Adelaide Center for Neuroscience Research wanted to observe the relationship between brain tumors and substance P, a peptide linked to inflammation in the brain. The researchers noted that there was an increased level of substance P in the brain tumor tissues, which suggested that substance P might be associated with the tumor's growth in the brain.

"Researchers have known for some time that levels of substance P are also greatly increased in different tumor types around the body. We wanted to know if these elevated levels of the peptide were also present in brain tumor cells, and if so, whether or not they were affecting tumor growth. Importantly, we wanted to see if we could stop tumor growth by blocking substance P."

The researchers knew that substance P binds to a receptor called NK1. Hartford-Wright wanted to see the effects of the substance if it did not combine with the receptor and decided to block that binding process by using Emend. Surprisingly, the team found that Emend was successful in not only decreasing brain cancer growth, but also in leading to the death of some tumor cells.

"We were successful in blocking substance P from binding to the NK1 receptor, which resulted in a reduction in brain tumor growth - and it also caused cell death in the tumor cells. So preventing the actions of substance P from carrying out its role in brain tumors actually halted the growth of brain cancer," She stated.

This finding could lead to more possible drug treatments for brain tumor patients. If Emend or variations of this drug can be found to fight brain tumors without other major side effects, treatment options can be improved significantly. 

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