Scientists across country make headway in fight against glioblastoma

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Thursday, February 2, 2023
LI scientist working on new treatment for Glioblastoma
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Scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Lab are working on new treatment for Glioblastoma brain cancer.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Scientists across the country, including in our area, are making strides in the fight against glioblastoma, an aggressive cancer of the brain, which affects 14,000 people every year in the United States, mostly men, and claimed the life of former WABC-TV news director Rehan Aslam.

At Cold Spring Harbor Lab, scientists recently had a breakthrough in a seven-year long study of glioblastoma.

"I'm super excited because this is something nobody's ever seen," said Dr. Alea Mills, the lead professor of the study.

Mills explained she and her team discovered a weakness of glioblastoma.

They discovered if they can shut down a protein in the glioblastoma, they can awaken a critical cancer fighting protein the cancer had put to sleep.

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"We discovered this Achilles heel, this vulnerability," she said.

Mills said scientists put their theory to the test using mice to which they attached human glioblastoma tumors.

"This is a very basic discovery at this stage," Mills said. "We are working with neurosurgeons, human pathologists, clinical oncologists to try to bring this toward the bedside."

It will take years for the discovery to become a potential form of treatment and will require human trials to test for safety and effectiveness and FDA approval.

Last month, the FDA granted Cantex Pharmaceuticals, based in Florida, the ability to distribute their once-a-day pill for the treatment of glioblastoma.

In Rhode Island, scientists at Lifespan Cancer Institute said they've developed a vaccine that could extend the lives of glioblastoma patients.

Researchers said in the Phase III trial, newly diagnosed patients treated with the vaccine survived for a median of 22.4 months from surgery and five-year survival was 13%.

Typically, according to Lifespan, patients live for only about 15 to 17 months from diagnosis with a five-year survival from diagnosis only about 5%.

"This is the first time in nearly 20 years that a Phase III trial of a systemic treatment has shown such survival extension in newly diagnosed glioblastoma," Lifespan said. "(This is the) first time in nearly 30 years that a Phase III trial of any type of treatment has shown such survival extension in recurrent glioblastoma."

Gita Kwatra, the head of the Glioblastoma Foundation, said the medical discoveries are positive news.

"It is really encouraging," she said. "We hope that it can be translated, you know, from the laboratory and bring some benefit to the patient."

Kwatra said the Glioblastoma Foundation was created in 2016 in order to speed up the process of getting new treatment discoveries from the lab to the patient.

To learn more about the Glioblastoma Foundation, visit the Glioblastoma Foundation's online website.


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