New Brain Cancer Treatment Targets Tumor Hypoxia To Increase Benefits of Radiation Therapy

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Charles S. Cobbs, MD
The Gregory Foltz, MD Endowed Director Ben & Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment Swedish Neuroscience Specialists
The most important aspect of treatment for glioblastoma is radiation treatment. Radiation probably has more of an impact on overall survival than surgery or chemotherapy. However, radiation works by breaking bonds of DNA molecules, and this requires the radiation to first get an oxygen molecule and break it into dust releasing a so-called free radical oxygen molecule. This is the actual mechanism by which the DNA is damaged. Therefore, one of the essential ingredients for successful radiation treatment of the tumor is the presence of oxygen. Unfortunately, whereas oxygen in the area is at 21%, we know that the oxygen in the tumor environment may be as low as 1% or less. Therefore, one of the road blocks for successful radiation treatment has been making sure there was actually oxygen in the tumor to start with. In order to try to overcome this hurdle, investigators at UCSF brain tumor research center have partner with a company called Omniox, Inc., and the group have been awarded a $7.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute.  http://medcitynews.com/2014/05/omniox/ . This research will attempt to lead to phase I clinical trials to test a molecule called OMX-4.80. This molecule has the capacity to deliver oxygen to the tumor tissue which inherently has very low levels of oxygen. The hypothesis is that increased oxygen delivery to the tumor will facilitate the effects of radiation treatment and improve the patient’s antitumor effect and overall survival. Hopefully this strategy will benefit patients.   Investigators are just now in the early stages of obtaining FDA approval for this new molecule. Clinical trials will likely not begin for at least another year or so.
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