Marker Found For The Most Malignant Brain Tumors

May 10, 1999

HERSHEY, PA--Researchers at Penn State's College of Medicine have identified what could be a marker for certain types of brain tumors. This marker would be a valuable diagnostic tool for physicians who deal with patients with these tumors.

"Human high-grade gliomas, including glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), are the most prevalent and most difficult-to-manage brain tumors. Due to a variety of forms among these tumors, it was thought, until now, that it would not be possible to identify a common marker attributable to the disease and present in the vast majority of patients with brain tumors," explains Waldemar Debinski, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of surgery and director of tumor research. "We have demonstrated that more than 90 percent of patients with GBM possess a receptor for an immune regulatory factor, interleukin 13 (IL 13)."

Debinski and his team tested tumors reviewed from 23 patients. Of those, 22 patients had the IL 13 receptor.

He and his colleagues' at Penn State and collaborators at the University of Alabama at Birmingham work is titled, "Receptor for Interleukin 13 as a Marker and Therapeutic Target for Human High Grade Gliomas," is published in the May issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

Debinski and his team are also developing powerful drug therapies to treat these brain tumors. In studies using mice, they have shown that a powerful cytotoxin attaches to the IL 13 and kills the brain tumor in at least 40 percent of the cases and is often even more effective than that. The cytotoxin does not harm normal brain cells.

"We have been extremely encouraged with these results. We can use the most powerful agents to fight these formidably difficult to manage brain cancers," says Debinski.

Because of these excellent results in animal testing, Debinski and his team hope to begin clinical trials by the end of the year.
Additional Contact:
M. Steven Bortner (o) 717-531-8606

Penn State

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