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Genetic Defect at Work in Deadly Brain Tumors

1 in 4 Glioblastomas May Have Newly Discovered Fault in Gene

Hope for New Treatments

“The home run will be if we can identify patients with this defect and find out if a neutralization of this pathway actually helps them,” Aldape says.

There’s already some evidence that such a strategy could work.

The new study also found that boosting the expression of I-kappa-B in cancer cells that carry the NFKBIA deletion makes them more vulnerable to a chemotherapy drug called Temodar.

There’s a study already under way at Northwestern University that is testing a drug called Velcade, which helps to stabilize levels of the I-kappa-B protein in cancer cells.

The hope is that Velcade, or another as-yet-undiscovered medication, could first be given to patients to help sensitize cancer cells to a next wave of chemotherapy or radiation treatments that could then finish them off.

If that happens, experts say it could be the first real spark of hope in a cancer where diagnosis is nearly always a death sentence.

“I’ve been focusing on brain tumors for one-quarter of a century,” says Harsh, “and it’s heart wrenching to lose patient after patient.”

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