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New research shows brain tumours can be killed with anti-nausea drug

The drug is currently being used to help patients recovering from the side effects of chemotherapy.

Image: X-ray image via Shutterstock

NEW RESEARCH FROM the University of Adelaide in Australia has shown for the first time that the growth of brain tumours can be halted by a drug currently being used to help patients recovering from the side effects of chemotherapy.

The discovery has been made during a study looking at the relationship between brain tumors and a peptide associated with inflammation in the brain, called “substance P”.

Substance P is commonly released throughout the body by the nervous system, and contributes to tissue swelling following injury. In the brain, levels of substance P greatly increase after traumatic brain injury and stroke.

Commenting on the research today, Dr Elizabeth Harford-Wright of the university’s Centre for Neuroscience Research said researchers have known for some time that levels of the substance are also greatly increased in different tumours around the body.

“We wanted to know if these elevated levels of the peptide were also present in brain tumor cells, and if so, whether or not they were affecting tumor growth,” she said. “Importantly, we wanted to see if we could stop tumor growth by blocking substance P.”

Substance P binds to a receptor called NK1 and Harford-Wright used an anti-nausea drug called Emend® to stop this from happening, thus reducing the growth. Blocking the substance from binding to the receptor also caused cell death in the tumour cells.

“This is a very exciting result, and it offers further opportunities to study possible brain tumor treatments over the coming years,” Harford-Wright added.

Related: Drug combination ‘shrinks’ secondary brain tumours in breast cancer patients>
Read: Sheryl Crow diagnosed with benign brain tumour>

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