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Positive results reported in early tests of brain cancer drug

2012/04/13 18:33:40

Taipei, April 13 (CNA) A medical research team has completed animal testing on a drug against an aggressive type of brain tumor and found that the average life expectancy of mice doubled after they were treated with the drug, the leader of the research team said Friday.

Harn Horng-jyh, a professor at China Medical University, said his team is working with a biotechnology company to develop a drug against glioblastoma multiforme, which is an aggressive malignant primary brain tumor.

The treatment of this kind of tumor usually involves surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, but the drug is aimed at providing an alternative, Harn said.

Lin Shinn-zong, chairman of the Taiwan Neurosurgical Society, said that type of tumor is fast growing and has a high recurrence rate.

It can grow to 16 times its size in just one month, and the life expectancy of patients, who are often not diagnosed until the late stages, is 12-18 months on average, he said.

Harn said a steady release of the drug into the tumors inhibited their growth in mice.

Around 35 percent of the mice in the test lived for up to 250 days after one treatment and no side effects were seen during the experiment, Harn said.

The main ingredient of the drug is z-butylidenephthalide, a natural compound that can be extracted from the Chinese medicinal herb Angelica sinensis.

Taiwan records around 400 new brain tumor cases every year, 60 percent of which are malignant, according to Lin.

The five-year survival rate of patients with malignant brain tumors is only 3.4 percent, he said.

(By Lung Jui-yun and Kay Liu)