In what may be a significant breakthrough, the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix, Arizona has identified a drug, propentofylline (PPF), that could help treat patients with deadly brain cancer. In a study published online on November 12, 2015 in the Journal of NeuroOncology, TGen researchers report that PPF works to limit the spread of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common primary tumor of the brain and central nervous system, by targeting a protein called TROY. In addition, TGen laboratory research also found that PPF increases the effectiveness of a a current standard-of-care chemotherapy drug called temozolomide (TMZ), and radiation, to treat glioblastoma. "We showed that PPF decreased glioblastoma cell expression of TROY, inhibited glioma cell invasion, and made brain cancer cells more vulnerable to TMZ and radiation," said Dr. Nhan Tran, Associate Professor and Head of TGen's Central Nervous System Tumor Research Lab. An advantage of small-molecule PPF, which has previously been used in clinical trials in an attempt to treat Alzheimer's disease and dementia, is that it can penetrate the blood-brain barrier and reach the tumor. And, the FDA has already approved it. The Journal of Neuro-Oncology article is titled “Propentofylline Inhibits Glioblastoma Cell Invasion and Survival by Targeting the TROY Signaling Pathway.” "Our data suggests that PPF, working in combination with TMZ and radiation, could limit glioblastoma invasion and improve the clinical outcome for brain tumor patients," said Dr. Tran, the study's senior author. This study was funded, in part, by The Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation.
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