Discovery made in brain cancer research

Tuesday, September 9th 2008, 7:43 pm
By: News 9

By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9

Oklahoma is leading the way in brain cancer research.

Scientists have discovered a compound that may lead to a breakthrough for brain tumor patients. It's only a matter of time until the drug is used for humans.

Scientists have uncovered a drug that has the potential to cure gliomas, or brain tumors, one of the most virulent types of cancer. The drug was discovered at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.

"What we're hoping with this particular drug is that we can actually extend the survival rate of a particular patient much longer than beyond a year," Rheal Towner, PhD, OMRF said.

This drug has been developed to fight the type of cancer that has infected Senator Ted Kennedy. His prognosis hasn't been made public, but its reported average life expectancy is less than five years.

In the lab, the drug has tested successfully. Once administered to an animal infected with a brain tumor, OKN Double-07 has destroyed the cancer 80 percent of the time, without reoccurrence.

"What it does is, it promotes the killing of tumor cells specifically and has no affect on any normal cells," Towner said.

Researchers are now asking the FDA for the chance to perform clinical trials in humans, to make the transition from the bench to the bedside, hoping for a cancer cure.

Doctors in Oklahoma and in Utah are interested in conducting clinical trials with the new drug.

OU Cancer Institute scientists are also making strides. They've identified a new cancer stem-cell marker and they're developing a drug to stop cancer recurrence.