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Nov 29, 2012

Exploring Alcoholism Drug’s Potential Against Brain Tumors

  • The Ben and Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment at Swedish Medical Center will receive a $2.5 million grant from the Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation—the second grant in three years awarded to the Ivy Center by the foundation.

    Swedish said the new grant will be used to identify new drugs with potential for clinical use in brain cancer treatment, by expanding a pilot study designed to target and eliminate cancerous tumor stem cells, completed with funds from the first grant issued in 2009.

    The pilot study identified Disulfiram, an existing treatment for alcoholism, as a top candidate for preclinical testing for the brain tumor glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). The expanded study will use the latest grant to fund preclinical trials to further validate the use of Disulfiram to treat brain cancer; as well as a new study that tests 50,000 drug candidates against brain cancer stem cells—derived from a larger group of patients—to determine their ability to inhibit the growth of brain tumors.

    An independent study published simultaneously in Oncotarget also identified Disulfiram as a drug with antitumor activity in GBM. That study was carried out by a research group led by Sandra Dunn, Ph.D., associate professor and faculty of medicine member in the department of pediatrics at the University of British Columbia: "Within one week's time, our two groups showed similar results using direct patient tissue samples."

    The pilot study also identified nearly 50 additional FDA-approved drugs as potential cancer treatment options, according to data published Oct. 23 in Oncotarget.

    The latest grant brings to $5 million the amount the foundation has gifted to the Ivy Center. Since 2005, the organization has invested $50 million in brain cancer research around the world.

    "Over the past five years, we have made tremendous progress understanding the molecular pathways activated in individual patient's tumors," said Gregory Foltz, M.D., the Ivy Center’s director and senior author of the pilot study that identified Disulfiram as a treatment candidate. “With the Ivy Foundation's renewed support, we can continue to identify potential new treatments that target these pathways. This approach holds great promise to not only extend a patient's life, but improve their quality of life as well.”

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