At a scientific meeting this week, researchers hail their evidence about a new soluble drug containing liquid aspirin as a potential breakthrough in the treatment of brain tumors.
The new research, from the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom, features at the Brain Tumours 2016 - From Biology to Therapy meeting, held in Warsaw, Poland, 27-29 June, 2016.
Describing their findings as "potentially groundbreaking" for future treatments of brain tumors, Prof. Geoff Pilkington and Dr. Richard Hill explain their new drug is able to cross the blood-brain barrier.
The blood-brain barrier is like a smart wrapper that both protects the brain from foreign substances in the bloodstream getting into the brain, while also allowing essential molecules to pass from the brain into the bloodstream and vice versa.
Researchers trying to develop cancer drugs for treating brain tumors have found it very difficult to create compounds that pass through the blood-brain barrier. Many cancer drugs that can defeat tumors in other parts of the body cannot pass through.
The researchers note that a truly liquid aspirin has long been a goal in drug research. Currently available aspirins that are described as "soluble" are not fully soluble; they contain tiny particles of solid aspirin that cause gastric side effects.
'Drug could be highly effective against glioblastoma'
The new soluble drug - called IP1867B - combines aspirin and two other ingredients. The Portsmouth team developed it in collaboration with Innovate Pharmaceuticals.
All three ingredients are already approved for clinical use, note the researchers, and have been shown to kill tumor cells without harming healthy brain tissue.
They say their findings suggest the new drug could be highly effective against glioblastoma, one of the most devastating and most common type of brain tumor in adults.
Estimates suggest there will be 23,770 new cases and 16,050 deaths from brain and other nervous system cancers in the United States in 2016.
The researchers tested the new drug on cancer cells from tissue taken from adults and children with brain cancer. They found that both individually, and in combination, the drug ingredients were ten times more effective at killing tumor cells than any combination of other currently used drugs.
While these results are exciting and promising, the drug now needs to undergo the usual process of further development and testing in preclinical models before trials can begin on patients with brain cancer.
"It is science like this that will enable us to eventually find a cure for this devastating disease which kills more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer."
Sue Farrington Smith, chief executive of Brain Tumour Research