Sunday, December 03, 2000

Brain tumor studies planned

New strategies for deadly foe

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati's Neuroscience Institute has begun two clinical trials to study new ways to treat glioblastomas, one of the deadliest forms of brain tumor.

        One study involves placing patients in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to make their tumors more sensitive to radiation treatment. The other involves using computer-guided needles to inject a new type of chemotherapy into the tumor.

        For those who qualify to participate, both studies could represent new options for a type of cancer that has few successful treatments, said Dr. Ronald Warnick, principal investigator.

        About 6,500 people nationwide are diagnosed every year with glioblastoma. The average survival time with standard treatments — surgery and follow-up radiation — is about one year.

        “The newer approaches are looking at ways to put treatment directly into the tumor because the blood-brain barrier (a natural protective feature of the brain) has limited the effect of IV chemotherapies,” Dr. Warnick said. In the chemotherapy study, researchers hope to recruit five to 10 patients in the next 18 months who have been treated for glio- blastoma, only to have the tumor start to regrow.

        The study will test the safety of various doses of a chemical called DTI-015, which was made by mixing a common chemotherapy drug with ethanol.

        The drug, developed by a company called Direct Therapeutics Inc., also would be directly injected into the tumor, which allows as much as 10 times as much chemical to reach the tumor without damaging the rest of the body.

        In the hyperbaric oxygen study, researchers will re-test a 20-year-old idea with better equipment. Previous studies have shown that the presence of oxygen in the tumor makes it more likely to be killed by radiation. However, the amount of oxygen in the center of brain tumors can be very low, Dr. Warnick said.

        In the hyperbaric chamber, patients will breathe 100 percent oxygen at more than two times normal atmospheric pressure for about an hour. This is expected to increase the oxygen content in the tumor. Once depressurized, patients would be immediately given radiation therapy in hopes that the extra oxygen will help kill more cancer cells.

        For information about the studies, call (513) 558-3179.


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