Scientists make promising breakthrough for children with rare brain cancer

A new treatment has generated hope for children with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a rare brain cancer aggressive that causes death in just a few months. It is the combination of two drugs used for other existing cancers that has shown efficacy against this incurable disease.

The doctors responsible for this advance belong to the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), in London. As reported by The Guardian, the drugs are generally used against skin cancer and blood cancer, respectively. Yet together they seem to fight the diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma something that so far no treatment has achieved.

“We hope it will become a new and successful combination treatment for this terrible disease,” said Chris Jones, professor of pediatric brain tumor biology at the ICR.

The drug combination consists of dasatinib for leukemia and trametinib for him melanoma. Their joint action was tested in mice and was shown to slow the growth of DIPG tumors. This technique “had a much greater effect than expected when the two drugs were added together (than if it had been applied separately),” Jones explained.

The result was really promising, as it reduced the growth of DIPG cancer cells cultured in mouse brain tissue by more than 60%.

“These promising results have encouraged us to continue analyzing patient samples and modeling their response to treatment, because it indicates how specific some of the treatments we need to develop are,” Jones said.

The next step that researchers will take is to seek approval of the treatment.

“Our findings will need to be further validated in the laboratory, but because we are using existing approved drugs that we know are safe, we hope it won’t be long before the new treatment enters clinical trials,” he said.