This anti-malarial drug shows promise for treating deadly brain cancer

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In a new study, researchers found that lumefantrine, an FDA-approved drug for malaria, could boost the effectiveness of the current treatments for deadly brain cancer.

The research was conducted by a team at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is an aggressive form of cancer in the brain that is typically fatal.

The current treatments involving radiation and temozolomide, anti-cancer chemotherapy, can marginally extend the lives of patients with glioblastoma multiforme brain tumors.

But the resistance of GBM to these therapies is frequent.

Additionally, the five-year survival rate of GBM patients treated with the standard of care is less than 6%, and no current therapies prevent a recurrence.

The researchers have focused on discovering FDA-approved drugs and more uncommon agents that could potentially help counteract glioblastoma’s resistance to and effectiveness of treatment.

This study showed the antimalarial drug may work as a possible therapy for glioblastoma multiforme resistant to the standard of care.

Specifically, lumefantrine can inhibit a genetic element involved in cancer development and progression, Fli-1, which controls the resistance of glioblastoma multiforme to radiation and temozolomide.

The researchers found that using lumefantrine while treating glioblastoma killed cancer cells and suppressed tumor cell growth.

This occurred in both glioblastoma cells sensitive to and those that otherwise would be resistant to radiation and temozolomide.

Furthermore, lumefantrine inhibited tumor growth caused by both therapy-sensitive and therapy-resistant glioblastoma cells.

The team says the identification of drugs like lumefantrine from FDA-approved drugs and from uncommon sources provides new opportunities to benefit glioblastoma multiforme patients.

The lead author of the study is Paul B. Fisher, M.Ph., Ph.D., FNAI.

The study is published in PNAS.

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