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Medical researchers at FAU discover new function of cancer drug

The active agent sunitinib – marketed as Sutent – inhibits the tumour-induced formation of new blood vessels in gastrointestinal and renal carcinoma (Image: Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain)

Tumour cells in the brain are directly attacked

Neurosurgeons at Universitätsklinikum Erlangen have discovered a new function of a cancer drug. The active agent sunitinib has so far been used to treat gastrointestinal connective tissue tumours, known as gastrointestinal carcinoma, and advanced renal carcinoma. The doctors discovered that the drug is also effective against brain tumours. Their findings have recently been published in the journal Cancer Science.*

 

Once they have reached a certain size, malignant tumours can no longer absorb enough oxygen and nutrients from the surrounding healthy tissue. They need their own blood vessels in order to grow further and metastasise. The active agent sunitinib – marketed as Sutent – inhibits the tumour-induced formation of new blood vessels in gastrointestinal and renal carcinoma.

 

The team of doctors led by PD Dr. Nicolai Savaskan from the Department of Neurosurgery investigated in their latest study whether the drug is also effective against brain tumours. It was revealed that the drug acts as a cell toxin against these gliomas and destroys the tumour cells. It attacks the receptors which are responsible for the formation of a tumour’s inner blood vessel walls. The Erlangen-based researchers also proved that sunitinib does not harm normal brain cells and protects nerve cells. Furthermore, it amplifies the effects of temozolomide in chemotherapy with temozolomide (marketed as Temodal) which is usually used for these brain tumours.

 

*www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25458015

 

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