According to the National Brain Tumor Society, approximately 700,000 people in the United States are currently living with a primary brain tumor. The same organization notes that nearly a quarter of people with these tumors will eventually succumb to them. A new study could provide some much needed help for those diagnosed with a certain type of brain cancer.
A Fast and Deadly Opponent
The most common form of brain cancer is known as glioblastoma. Glioblastoma not only spreads at a rapid rate, but is also an extremely dangerous disease; less than 7 percent of people diagnosed with glioblastoma tumors survive past five years. Given this fact, a team of researchers from Texas A&M University and Northwestern University recently tested a possible new treatment for glioblastoma. They were joined in their efforts by a biopharmaceutical firm known as ImmunoGenesis. The new treatment used on glioblastoma tumors immunotherapy drug, known by the acronym STING (STimulator of INterferon Genes). STING was developed by ImmunoGenesis founder Dr. Michael A. Curran, and is designed to prompt the immune system to fight cancer cells it otherwise would be unable to eliminate.
A Vanishing Act
For this study, the authors tested their new drug on a small group of five dogs. Each one of these dogs had previously been found to have glioblastoma. STING was injected straight into the dogs’ tumors; following these injections, the dogs underwent MRI scans during the proceeding 10 month period. The scans were highly encouraging for the new drug; even after being administered just one dose, the dogs’ tumors began to reduce in size. One lucky dog even had its tumor disappear completely.
“With this therapy, we were trying to take tumors that do not, on their own, generate a lot of immune response and turn them into tumors that do by injecting them with this immunotherapy agent,” stated Dr. Beth Boudreau, a Texas A&M assistant professor of neurology. “In humans with glioblastoma, our STING agonist will be combined with surgery, which should improve its safety and efficacy. Further investigation and refinement would be needed to determine the role of this therapy in treating brain tumors in dogs.”