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Common Altitude Sickness Drug Might Help Improve Brain Cancer Survival Rates

By jeremyc | July 9, 2018

Glioblastoma, also called giloblastoma multiforme, is one of the most aggressive forms of brain cancer. It is most commonly treated with temozolomide (TMZ for short), which is a chemotherapy drug. However, this drug doesn’t work for all of the patients. Is it possible to improve temozolomide’s efficacy by combining with a drug used for treating altitude sickness?

According to the latest research, the answer might by yes.

TMZ treats giloblastoma by altering DNA. This in turn prevents certain proteins which facilitate the growth and expansion of the tumors from expressing themselves. However, the problem is that several tumor cells don’t allow TMZ to do its work.

Because of this, the drug’s efficacy is not quite what we might hope it to be. However, the new study suggests that another drug might improve its efficacy and survival rates among giloblastoma patients.

The name of this drug is acetazolamide. It is prescribed to people suffering from altitude sickness. Other health problems for which acetazolamide might be used are seizures and glaucoma.

The researchers noted that when the levels of a certain protein, BCL-3, are high, giloblastoma patients are more likely to be resistant to TMZ treatment. BCL-3 resists TMZ by triggering off carbonic anyhdrase II.

This study was conducted on mice with giloblastoma. The researchers noted that survival rate among mice improved when acetazolamide was added to TMZ treatment.

On further investigation, the researchers found that acetazolamide improves TMZ’s efficacy by inhibiting carbonic anyhdrase, and by extension, BCL-3, the very protein that’s resistant to TMZ’s actions.

Preliminary research done by this team also showed that patients having lower BCL-3 levels had better survival rates following their TMZ treatment.

The researchers want further trials should be done to check if testing patients for BCL-3 can help identify those patients who are less likely to respond to treatment with TMZ.

The team hopes that in future such patients could be given acetazolamide with TMZ improve the efficacy of TMZ treatment.




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