A new study has found a potential treatment for malignant brain tumors using a drug made from a natural compound found in traditional Chinese medicine.
The compound, called indirubin, was found to improve the survival rate of mice with malignant brain tumors in a study published in Cell Reports Medicine.
The researchers tested a new formulation that was easier to administer, taking the potential pharmaceutical approach one step closer to clinical trials with human participants.
Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive type of brain cancer, and the standard treatment is chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, which may improve symptoms but don’t cure or stop cancer.
Indirubin is a natural product present in indigo plants and a constituent of the traditional Chinese medicine Dang Gui Long Hui Wan.
Derivatives of indirubin have shown potential for the treatment of cancer through a range of mechanisms.
Research published ten years ago showed that indirubin slowed the growth of glioblastoma tumors in mice.
However, the modified drug wasn’t easy to work with, making it challenging for scientists to test dosage levels or efficiently deliver it to the tumor.
As the scientists continued to research the compound, they were contacted by the biomedical company Phosphorex, which had patented a formulation of indirubin called 6′-bromoindirubin acetoxime (BiA), which made the compound easier to use as an injectable cancer treatment.
The researchers tested the nanoparticle formulation of BiA on glioblastoma tumors in mice and found that it slowed the growth and proliferation of tumor cells while also improving survival via effects on important immunotherapeutic targets.
The drug impacted the immune system in these mouse experiments in a way that could enhance clinical immunotherapy in humans.
The researchers will continue to test the drug to see how it interacts with chemotherapy and radiation, with the aim of developing clinical trials for participants with glioblastoma.
While scientists have been studying glioblastoma for decades, the team said that there haven’t been many significant therapeutic breakthroughs, until now.
How to prevent brain cancer
There is no sure way to prevent brain cancer, but there are some steps that people can take to reduce their risk:
Protect your head from injury: Head injuries, especially those that involve loss of consciousness, have been linked to an increased risk of brain cancer. So it’s essential to wear a helmet while riding a bike or playing contact sports.
Avoid exposure to harmful chemicals: Exposure to certain chemicals can increase the risk of developing brain cancer. These chemicals include pesticides, solvents, and other toxic substances.
Eat a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of developing many types of cancer, including brain cancer.
Exercise regularly: Regular exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of many types of cancer, including brain cancer. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption have been linked to an increased risk of brain cancer. So it’s best to avoid or limit both of these activities.
If you care about brain health, please read studies about vitamin D deficiency linked to Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, and scientists find new evidence how Alzheimer’s attacks the brain.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce dementia risk, and your handgrip strength is linked to your brain health.
The study was conducted by Mykola Zdioruk et al and published in Cell Reports Medicine.
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