Experimental Drug May Help in Brain, Prostate Cancers

MONDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- An experimental drug called imetelstat shows promise in treating glioblastoma brain cancer and prostate cancer, according to the results of preclinical studies in which the drug was tested on human prostate cancer cells and in rodents with glioblastoma.

Researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found that the drug had an effect on most tumor cells, as well as cancer stem cells believed to cause most of a cancer's growth. Tests in mice with glioblastoma also showed that the drug was able to cross from the bloodstream into the brain. Most drugs cannot cross the blood-brain barrier.

The glioblastoma study is published in the January issue of Clinical Cancer Research, and the prostate cancer study was published online in the International Journal of Cancer.

Imetelstat (also called GRN163L) is being tested in clinical trials as a treatment for breast cancer, lung cancer and lymphocytic leukemia. The drug targets a mechanism that allows cancer cells to continue dividing.

"Because it attacks a mechanism that's active in most cancers, it might prove to be widely useful, especially when combined with other therapies," Dr. Jerry Shay, a professor of cell biology at the university and senior co-author of both studies, said in a university news release.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, news release, Jan. 4, 2010