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Drug testing study shows reduced occurrence of brain tumors

Category: Cancer Detection and Tumor Markers

Lab testing of the drug vorinostat demonstrated that the medication is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and reduce the occurrence of metastatic tumors in mice.

The new study, which appears in the September 29 online issue of Clinical Cancer Research, demonstrated that vorinostat reduced the development of large metastatic tumors in mice by 62 percent compared a group of mice that did not receive the drug.

For humans, vorinostat has been FDA approved for the treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, but has only been used experimentally as treatment of other cancers. The researchers, from the National Cancer Institute, say that this study may provide insight regarding the prevention of breast cancer's spread to the brain in diseased patients. Brain metastases of breast cancer have been untreatable because of the blood-brain barrier.

"Drugs that can cross the blood-brain barrier and reduce the size and incidence of metastatic tumors are urgently needed," said Dr Patricia S. Steeg, the study's author. Researchers believe the drug works by breaking strands of DNA and lowering the function of a repair gene, preventing cancer cells from restoring and metastasizing.

The National Institutes of Health determined that about 20 percent of breast cancer patients diagnosed with brain metastases survive past one year.

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