Determining Who Will Respond to Brain Tumor Therapy

Blood biomarker, combined with MRI scan, helps predict outcome, study finds

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TUESDAY, June 23, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- A new biomarker that may help predict whether someone with a brain tumor will respond to a given treatment has been identified by U.S. researchers.

Looking to see who would respond to anti-vascular endothelial growth factor therapy, they used MRIs to scan the brains of people with recurrent glioblastoma, or malignant brain tumors, after they took an experimental drug called cediranib. By measuring vascular normalization, the researchers were able to identify, even after a single dose, people who benefitted from the drug and those who did not.

People with a greater degree of vascular normalization had longer overall survival and longer progression-free survival, according to the phase 2 study, which included 31 people.

"We found that results from an advanced MRI scan taken just a day after starting treatment correlated with survival," Dr. A. Gregory Sorensen, an associate professor of radiology and health sciences and technology at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, said in a news release. "Combining MRI with blood biomarkers did an even better job of identifying patients who best responded to treatment."

"If this approach is validated in larger studies, we could use these tools to keep patients on therapies that their tumors respond to and shift non-responders to other therapies much earlier," he added.

The study appears in the journal Cancer Research.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about brain tumors.

SOURCE: American Association for Cancer Research, news release, June 23, 2009

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