Scientists identify new drug combination for children with brain cancer

pharmafile | November 5, 2021 | News story | Medical Communications  

A new study has shown that combining two existing cancer drugs for leukaemia and melanoma could offer a promising future for children with incurable brain cancer.

Scientists found that using an existing leukaemia drug alongside a melanoma skin cancer treatment slowed down the growth of cancer cells taken from patients with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG).

The study was led by scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and aimed to find ways to treat children with DIPG tumours using drugs called MEK inhibitors, which have been approved for several other cancers. These drugs have been found to work, and had not previously been tested in a clinical context for children with DIPG – most of whom currently die within a year of diagnosis.

The combination showed efficacy against cells that had evolved resistance to single drug treatment, offering optimism that it could help to prolong progression of the disease. Researchers hope to further support and validate their findings through cell and animal studies, before progressing the drug combination to clinical trials. 

Professor Chris Jones, Professor of Paediatric Brain Tumour Biology at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: “We’ve grown up tumour samples from children with brain cancer in the lab to really understand the biology of their disease. We now have a much better understanding of the ways that DIPG brain tumours can mutate, and how they can evolve resistance to treatment with a single drug.

It has allowed us to identify what we hope could become a successful new combination treatment for this terrible disease. Our findings will need to be validated further in the lab, but because we are using existing approved drugs that we know are safe, we hope it won’t be too long before the new treatment enters clinical trials.

“These promising results have emboldened us to keep analysing patient samples and modelling their treatment response, because it shows how specific some of the treatments are that we’re needing to develop. We hope to identify further new combinations that can benefit children with DIPG tumours that carry other DNA mutations.”

Lina Adams

Related Content

No items found

Latest content