Scientists find new drug to treat deadly brain cancer

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In a new study, a team of researchers and doctors from The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and The Institute of Cancer Research in London have made a significant discovery in the fight against brain cancer.

They’ve been working with a new drug, created from oleic acid—a natural ingredient found in olive oil and other fats from animals and plants.

This drug is showing promising results against a severe form of brain cancer known as glioblastoma, which is the most commonly diagnosed type of brain tumor.

Glioblastoma is a fierce enemy. Every year, about 3,200 people in the U.K. are diagnosed with this aggressive brain cancer. Traditional treatments often fall short of providing lasting relief, making the need for new and effective treatments urgent.

Enter the new drug, named 2-OHOA. It’s a pioneering treatment, offering a fresh approach to tackling glioblastoma.

The drug is now in the spotlight, thanks to its success in early trials, and it’s currently being tested more broadly in a global study focused on patients who have just been diagnosed with this challenging disease.

The journey of 2-OHOA started with a study involving 54 patients who were battling recurrent glioblastoma and other advanced cancers.

Out of the 21 glioblastoma patients who received the drug, about a quarter saw their condition improve. Impressively, one patient had an extraordinary outcome, with the effects of the treatment lasting more than three years.

So, how does 2-OHOA work? It’s quite fascinating. The drug is a synthetic version of oleic acid, and it targets the cancer cells’ membranes. These membranes are crucial because they control the cell’s growth and interaction with other cells.

In cancer cells, these membranes are abnormal, which helps the disease to progress. 2-OHOA steps in to change the game by restructuring these membranes, making them behave more like those of healthy cells.

This action interrupts the signals that were encouraging the cancer to grow, effectively putting the brakes on the disease’s progression.

This development is particularly significant for those with glioblastoma. Patients with this form of brain cancer often face grim prospects, with many surviving only a year after diagnosis.

The last time a new treatment was introduced for these patients was nearly two decades ago, underscoring the critical need for research and development in this area.

Traditionally, brain cancer patients have had limited opportunities to participate in early-phase clinical trials. However, the inclusion of glioblastoma patients in the 2-OHOA study has been a pivotal step forward.

It has allowed for quicker evaluation of the drug’s effectiveness, paving the way for its inclusion in further trials.

The lead researchers, Dr. Juanita Lopez, a consultant medical oncologist at The Royal Marsden, and a reader in early-phase drug development at The Institute of Cancer Research, expressed optimism about the findings.

They highlighted the importance of developing new drugs like 2-OHOA, which has the potential to reshape the treatment landscape for glioblastoma.

As the trials continue, there is hope that this treatment will soon become a widely available option for those in need, offering a new beacon of hope in the fight against brain cancer.

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The research findings can be found in British Journal of Cancer.

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