Scientists discover groundbreaking treatment in fight against brain cancer

Scientists have discovered a new way of treating the deadliest type of brain tumour which could extend the lives of patients.

Less than 1% of patients live longer than 10 years with glioblastoma (GBM) but a new drug could be about to change that.

In a laboratory study, researchers exposed GBM tumours to a drug called ADI-PEG20, which makes tumours much more susceptible to radiotherapy.

Dr Karen Noble, director of research, policy and innovation at Brain Tumour Research, said: "This is a significant and exciting finding. There is an urgent need for novel approaches to treat GBM which, in the majority of cases, is fatal. There have been no improvements to treatment options for this type of tumour in two decades.

"Despite the promise of new targeted approaches in cancer treatment, the standard of care for patients with GBM remains unchanged – surgical resection followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy."

Emma Crabtree was diagnosed with the condition 12 years ago believes the breakthrough will give new hope to those living with the condition

Emma Crabtree from Skipton was given just 18 months to live when she was diagnosed 12 years ago.

She hopes the new drug will help more people survive.

She said:"I was really surprised because of the limited funding brain tumour research gets. it is quite a big killer in the overall proportion of cancers so it definitely needs more attention."

Emma did her bit to help raise money by writing a children's book about her cat during lockdown and has already sold over 300 copies.

"I have always liked doodling and illustrating so I gave it a go and self-published this and it's full of lovely pictures," she said.

Emma wrote a book about her cat during lockdown to raise money for brain cancer research

How the drug works

The new treatment depletes the amino acid arginine. Arginine is used in the production of complex molecules called proteins, which conduct a vast range of functions within cells.

It is required by a variety of cancer cells, especially ones that are growing quickly, and therefore depriving tumours of this amino acid has been explored as a potential anti-cancer strategy in a variety of tumour types, including GBM.

The next step for the drug is a clinical trial and for the scientist that discovered it the hope of rolling it out to help other people survive brain tumours. For more information and help visit