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Medical Moment: Stopping Glioblastoma

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(WNDU) – Glioblastoma is one of the most complex, deadly and treatment-resistant cancers.

it is a tumor with tentacles that spreads throughout the brain. Most treatments for these invasive brain tumors include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

But now doctors are learning that what is used to kill cancer can make it grow back.

Fran Noonan knew right away that she was in for the fight of her life.

“I wouldn’t accept it,” she said.

Immediately taken to surgery, followed by chemo and radiation. Five months later, the tumor reappeared.

“These are basically deadly brain tumors,” says Sandeep Burma, a radiation biologist at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio.

90% of glioblastomas reappear in just a few months. Now researchers believe that while radiation is the most effective treatment used to kill it, it may cause glioblastomas to return.

“You can’t really avoid injuring normal tissue surrounding the brain, especially because normal tissue surrounding the brain also needs to be irradiated in order to get rid of infiltrating tumor cells,” Burma says.

Burma found that when radiation hits brain tissue surrounding the tumor, normal brain cells age prematurely, causing cancer to grow faster and more aggressively. it’s called senescence.

“The recurrent tumor might be even more resistant to the second line of treatment,” Burma says.

The Myanmar team are now trying to prevent this from happening by using a type of medicine called senolytics to kill off aging cells after radiation therapy. In preliminary studies, it shows it could give patients a second chance to beat this deadly disease.

Burma’s studies have only been done on mice. But he thinks the research will not only impact how we treat glioblastomas in the future, but many other cancers as well.

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