An experimental drug derived from cottonseeds appears to be effective in treating the most lethal brain cancer called glioblastoma, according to researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
The researchers came to this conclusion following the results of a Phase II clinical trial of AT-101, a pill manufactured from a potent compound in cottonseeds that overcomes the abnormal growth patterns of tumour cells.
Glioblastomas are more common in adults, and are considered fast-growing brain tumours that are very difficult to treat.
Research leader Dr. John Fiveash, an associate professor in the UAB Department of Radiation Oncology, said that the cottonseed-based agent was found to halt the cancer's progression in many of the 56 patients.
He revealed that despite undergoing other treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, the trial patients' brain cancer had begun to grow again prior to starting AT-101 treatments.
The trial-monitored patients took only AT-101 daily for three out of four weeks.
"After getting this drug some of these patients went many months without any new growth in their tumours. We are able to do that with a well-tolerated oral medication, and that is a major benefit," Fiveash said.
He believes that the drug would likely work best in combination with radiation and chemotherapy to boost the cancer-fighting properties of those treatments.
Fiveash and his colleagues are also trying to determine which patients are most likely to benefit from AT-101.
The initial results of the drug trial would be presented on May 30, during the poster discussion of central nervous system tumours at the American Society for Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Orlando, Florida.