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 user 2006-08-01 at 11:44:00 am Views: 48
  • #16077

    Scorpion venom attacks tumours
    Researchers have developed a “man-made” scorpion venom to be used in the treatment of brain tumours.
    venom is used as a carrier to deliver radioactive iodine into tumour
    cells left behind after surgery has removed the bulk of the tumour.So
    far the technique has been tested in 18 patients and further trials are
    under way, a report in the Journal of Clinical Oncology says.Initial
    findings suggest the treatment is well-tolerated and may be
    effective.Gliomas can be a particularly aggressive form of brain
    tumours, with only 8% of patients surviving two years and 3% surviving
    five years from the time of diagnosis.Despite advances in surgery,
    radiotherapy and chemotherapy, there has been little improvement in
    length of survival for patients with gliomas.Researchers at
    Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in California, carried out a study using
    TM-601, a synthetic version of a peptide that naturally occurs in the
    venom of the giant yellow Israeli scorpion.Unlike many substances, the
    peptide can pass through the bloodstream into the brain and can bind to
    glioma cells.

    Patients in the study first had surgery to remove
    their tumour.Then 14 to 28 days later, a single, low dose of TM-601
    with radioactive iodine attached was injected into the cavity from
    which the tumour had been removed.Six patients were given additional
    doses of the drug.The main reason for the trial was to check tolerance
    of the dose and the researchers said there were very few adverse
    effects.Median length of survival for all patients was 27 weeks, but
    two patients had no evidence of tumour and were still alive 33 and 35
    months after surgery.

    Tumour specific
    Analysis showed that
    most of the radioactivity delivered by the drug had disappeared after
    24 hours.Any radiation that was left was localised to the tumour
    cavity, suggesting the drug was binding to the tumour cells rather than
    normal brain cells.The drug also binds to other types of tumours and
    the researchers are planning further studies.Study leader Dr Adam
    Mamelak, a neurosurgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said: “We’re
    using TM-601 primarily as a carrier to transport radioactive iodine to
    glioma cells, although there are data to suggest that it may also slow
    down the growth of tumour cells.”If studies continue to confirm this,
    we may be able to use it in conjunction with other treatments, such as
    chemotherapy, because there may be a synergistic effect.”Ed Yong,
    cancer information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: “Treating brain
    cancers with radioactive scorpion venom sounds like science
    fiction.”But this preliminary study shows that this approach is safe
    and has potential. Now, larger trials are needed to work out how
    effective it is.”This study highlights the varied and ingenious
    approaches that scientists are using to improve cancer treatments.”