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National brain tumour research funding needs to increase to £30-35 million a year

Results of early-stage clinical trials offer potential therapy options for GBM patients

The results of two studies have been published on Friday 26th January 2018, in the journal Neuro-Oncology, suggesting an anti-angiogenic therapy might be effective in treating glioblastoma brain tumours (GBM).

As brain tumours grow, they have an increasing need for energy and this can be achieved by the development of blood vessels within the tumour to deliver nutrition and oxygen. Therefore, one potential therapeutic approach is to try to prevent this from happening, or to interfere with the functioning of the blood vessels. This is called anti-angiogenic therapy. A number of drugs which act in this way have been tested but have not been particularly successful. However, the results of two phase II clinical trials suggest that this may yet be a viable therapeutic approach.

Cabozantinib is used to treat thyroid and renal tumours. Initial pre-clinical studies suggested that it may also be effective in the treatment of GBM. An early phase II clinical trial has been carried out with patients grouped according to their previous medication history and there was some evidence of improvement. The patients were assessed according to their previous therapies. Although there was a general overall improvement, only those who had been previously treated with a similar type of drug called bevacizumab exhibited a statistically significant benefit with increased overall survival rates.

These studies demonstrated that an anti-angiogenic therapeutic approach may be viable and some drugs which are already being used for the treatment of other types of cancer could hold promise. However, they also highlighted the importance of the potential use of multiple drug therapies to maximise the benefit where individual drugs administered alone may not be sufficiently robust to have clinical benefit.

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