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New Drug TM-601 Shows Promise for Treating Brain Tumors

Posted on: 11/07/2007

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New Drug TM-601 Shows Promise for Treating Brain Tumors


Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have developed a new drug that showed great promise for treating glioma, which are malignant brain tumors

The drug, TM-601 is actually a synthetic copy of chlorotoxin, which is a drug that is made from scorpion venom, which was discovered to be able to bind itself to brain tumors back in 1996 and this also happened at University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The findings of the test show that when administered in intravenous form, it can cross the barrier between the blood and the brain and bind itself to certain receptors on malignant tumor cells and it does not have any negative effects on the healthy cells. When it binds to the tumor, it delivers a dose of radiation that has the ability to kill off the tumor cells.

They had done tests previous to this one in which they delivered the drug by going though the skull. This test was conducted to see if it was effective when delivered intravenously.

Crossing the barrier between the blood and the tumor is one of the biggest obstacles in developing an effective drug.

They feel that TM-601 may turn out to be one of the most promising new drugs for patients with glioma. This is one of the most invasive types of brain cancer and the current treatments, surgical and medical alike, just are not effective against it. All in all, there are about 36,000 patients who develop primary brain tumors every year and out of these almost half are high-grade gliomas and half of the patients with these will die in the first year, so this research is going to have a big impact.

There were 5 participants in the in the trial all of whom had recurrent glimas. They were all given the drug intravenously and every one of them demonstrated a specific uptake, which shows that it did actually cross the barrier.

One of the patients also had a reduction of the tumor, which they saw by way of an MRI scan, so it appears that the drug can be successful. And because the drug was safe at this dose, they expect to be able to use a larger dose without there being a high risk of toxicity.

The lead researcher is John Fiveash, M.D., associate professor of radiation oncology at UAB.

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