Scientists study therapeutic form of arsenic to treat brain cancer

Scientists from Northwestern University are taking a radical approach by testing the potential for arsenic to treat a deadly form of brain cancer.

The study by researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the Translational Genomics Research Institute, or TGen, identified arsenic trioxide as a potential new treatment for glioblastoma multiforme, or GBM, the most common and deadliest type of brain cancer.

GBM is responsible for roughly 17,000 deaths in the United States a year and has an average survival rate of about 15 months.

Arsenic trioxide  has been the standard of treatment to prevent acute promyelocytic leukemia, or APL, a rare subtype of blood cancer.

Researchers at Northwestern participated in a clinical trial to test whether adding arsenic trioxide to the standard treatment of temozolomide, or TMZ, and radiation would be effective for treating GBM. That Phase II clinical trial found arsenic trioxide did not improve overall survival, but a deeper examination of data from the study suggested it could be effective for some patients -- inspiring the new study, which found it works for specific subgroups of patients with GBM.



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