Blood cancer drugs could help treat meningiomas

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Drugs developed to fight blood and other cancers could also help improve the efficiency of radiotherapy in the most commonly diagnosed low-grade brain tumour in adults, a new study has found.

Meningioma account for approximately 36% of all primary brain tumours. The majority are successfully treated by surgery, but some which can’t easily be accessed need to be treated with radiotherapy. That can cause significant side effects and radiation damage to the brain, while resistance to radiotherapy can also result in tumour growth.

A new study by researchers at the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at the University of Plymouth looked in detail at the effects of that radiation damage but also ways of mitigating it.

Using meningioma cells, researchers discovered that radiation-induced damage can lead to cells producing an increased quantity of the enzyme Histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6), which has previously been shown to contribute to tumour growth.

However, by administering the HDAC6 inhibitor Cay10603 prior to radiotherapy, they were able to inhibit cellular growth – and increase cell death – in meningioma samples.

The study – published in the journal eBioMedicine – was led by Dr Juri Na (pictured above) and Professor Oliver Hanemann, and they say their findings represent a potential promising approach to improving the treatment outcomes of malignant meningioma.

The research also builds on extensive and ongoing work by our Plymouth Centre looking at the potential of already-approved medications to be repurposed as a way of helping brain tumour patients.

Prof Hanemann, Director of the Centre of Excellence at the University of Plymouth, said: “There are still steps to overcome before this treatment can begin to benefit patients directly, but this is certainly a positive development when you consider the lack of existing treatments available to meningioma patients.”

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