Notch inhibitors may offer breakthrough on brain cancer

Cancer researchers are hailing a preclinical proof-of-concept study demonstrating the effectiveness of a combo therapy in targeting and eliminating brain cancer cells, an important new strategy for defeating a lethal case of glioblastoma.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School found that by combining an experimental Notch inhibitor with the chemotherapy drug temozolomide they could slow tumor growth and recurrence in mice and tissue more effectively than either agent alone. "Either drug used individually only transiently slowed tumor growth," they report.

That's good news for Merck and Eli Lilly, both of which have Notch inhibitors in the pipeline, according to Reuters. Glioblastoma is one of the toughest cancers to beat. The cancer has a tendency to go into remission temporarily before it comes back as an even more lethal tumor.

"Temozolomide is a chemotherapy drug of choice for glioblastomas, and the results of our preclinical study represent a potential promising new approach to combat an extremely difficult tumor," said lead researcher Alonzo Ross (photo). "The effect of the two together is very dramatic." Results of this study are published in the September issue of Cancer Research.

"These results help lay the groundwork for future clinical research and are yet another stepping stone towards a future era dominated by 'precision therapeutics' designed to specifically target the underlying molecular drivers of cancer growth and spread," said Patrick O'Connor (photo), chief scientific officer of Selexagen Therapeutics.

- here's the release
- read the Reuters story