Experimental drug combined with radiation kills brain tumors in pre-clinical studies
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A new study led by scientists at VCU Massey Cancer Center has shown that an experimental drug known as AZ32 selectively sensitizes brain tumors to radiation and significantly extends the survival of mouse models with human glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and deadly form of brain cancer. Published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, the study builds on the research of principal investigator Kristoffer Valerie, Ph.D., and has paved the way for a phase 1 clinical trial testing a similar but more effective experimental drug, AZ1390, in combination with radiation therapy for the treatment of brain cancer. An accompanying study on AZ1390 that Valerie co-authored was recently published in Science Advances.

AZ32 is a member of a family of compounds referred to as ATM kinase inhibitors. ATM, or ataxia telangiectasia mutated, is an enzyme that facilitates repair of DNA damage in cells. Radiation therapy is first-line treatment for GBM; however, glioma stem cells are often able to resist DNA damage caused by radiation. By inhibiting ATM, AZ32 was shown to disrupt the process by which brain cancer cells resist radiation while sparing and potentially protecting healthy brain tissue.

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