Molecular Medicine Israel

Brain cancer fits halted by gut drug

Nature Medicine (2011), doi:10.1038/nm.2453.
Susan C Buckingham, Susan L Campbell, Brian R Haas, Vedrana Montana, Stefanie Robel, Toyin Ogunrinu & Harald Sontheimer.
“Glutamate release by primary brain tumors induces epileptic activity”.

A drug for Crohn’s disease is proving adept at blocking seizures caused by brain tumours.

Many people with brain cancers called gliomas experience epileptic-like seizures. Fits occur because the transport machinery that gliomas use to move an essential amino acid into the tumour also secretes glutamate, which causes surrounding neurons to fire uncontrollably.

Harald Sontheimer’s team at theUniversity ofAlabama inBirmingham injected human glioma cells into 14 mice. Eight were given sulphasalazine, a drug which blocks the transport machinery; the rest a control.

Sulphasalazine halved the number of fits (Nature Medicine, DOI: 10.1038/nm.2453). Since sulphasalazine is approved for treating Crohn’s disease, and well tolerated by patients, it could be used to treat glioma immediately, says Sontheimer.


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