Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation Discovers Cancer-Fighting Drug For Aggressive Brain Cancer

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — It’s an aggressive form of cancer that took the lives of U.S. Senators Ted Kennedy and more recently John McCain.

Glioblastoma has a survival rate of about 15 months, but new research at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) could lengthen that time.

“And this is an example of an animal that has actually been treated on our antibody therapy, and the tumor’s gone altogether,” Dr. Rheal Towner, a scientist at  OMRF, said.

One drug is already being used in clinical trials to determine if it will extend patients’ lives, and doctors say another drug is on the way.

Dr. Rheal Towner has worked at OMRF for 18 years with one focus.

“So in my group, we actually assess drugs that could be effective against glioblastomas, which is the most devastating type of brain tumor someone can get,” Dr. Towner said.

There’s already a clinical trial for a drug his team created being used at OU’s Stephenson Cancer Center with good results.

“That drug in particular actually has been found to be effective by itself against glioblastomas and has extended the life of some patients by actually several years,” Dr. Towner said.

Some brain tumors can be radiation and chemotherapy resistant, making it difficult to treat.

Dr. Towner recently discovered a way to counteract a certain protein that is present in the most aggressive glioblastoma tumors.

“In a tumor normally blood vessels are very disorganized…”

Which makes it difficult to get drugs to reach the tumor.

“The tumors need those new blood vessels to be able to feed themselves…” Dr. Towner said.

He created a drug that slows the growth of new blood vessels which would allow cancer-fighting treatments to reach the tumors quicker.

“All cancers pretty well use the vasculature to be able to feed themselves, and so I think our antibody therapy against the ELTD1 could also have an effect on multiple types of cancers as well.”

Dr. Towner’s latest drug is in pre-clinical trials now.

He also says his team is working on another drug that could prove to be even more effective.

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