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Researchers Developing New Brain Tumor Treatments
A new anti-brain tumor treatment has been developed from a genetically engineered organism according to a new study published online in the prestigious research journal Molecular Therapy. The study has shown that the new agent, coded G207, is very effective when injected directly into the brain of patients with malignant glioma, a very difficult type of cancer to treat.
The study was carried out at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, sponsored by MediGene AG (a biotech company), supported in part by the National Cancer Institute, and led by James Markert, M.D., M.P.H, professor and director of neurosurgery.
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Brain Malignant Glioma
Every year 17,000 brain tumors are diagnosed in the United States with about 9,000 being malignant glioma, probably the most severe form of brain tumor known today. No more than 10% of patients are able to survive after two years with malignant glioma.
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G207, a Virus that Kills Cancer Cells
Dr. Markert wrote that “this is the first test of G207 injected directly into the brain and the results are promising." According to the study, G207 works by targeting and infecting cancer cells and taking the control of the cell's biochemical machinery. Then, it replicates itself, making millions of new viruses that make cancer cell explode just as any cell infected by any viruses. Basically it kills the cancerous cells. The process continues by new viruses looking for new cancer cells and infected them and killing them.
In addition, the study mentions that the immune system of the patient reacts to the new agent by stimulating its own immune system and stimulating the body’s white cells to target the cancerous cells or tumor helping the virus does its jobs on eliminating the tumor.
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Clinical trials such as the one performed for G207 open up the possibility of new treatments for this type of cancer and to increase survival rates. Although the new treatment is still under the category of “investigational biological" agent, we expect it soon to see it on the market for treatment of this difficult kind of cancer and possibly for other types of cancers.
James M Markert et al (2008). Phase Ib Trial of Mutant Herpes Simplex Virus G207 Inoculated Pre-and Post-tumor Resection for Recurrent GBM. Molecular Therapy (28 Oct 2008), doi: 10.1038/mt.2008.228