Glioblastoma is notorious for being therapeutically elusive. One key challenge is getting chemotherapies past the blood-brain barrier to target glioblastoma’s highly infiltrative tumors.
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“Some of the drugs that work very well against cancers outside the brain just can’t get into the brain,” says Glen Stevens, DO, PhD, Section Head of Adult Neuro-Oncology at Cleveland Clinic. “We realized we needed to look at ways to allow us to deliver chemotherapies into the brain.”
A leading candidate is the use of low-intensity focused ultrasound (LIFU) to open the blood-brain barrier for this purpose. That application of LIFU is the focus of a newly completed phase 1 study that Dr. Stevens is helping to lead — and also the focus of the latest episode of Cleveland Clinic’s Cancer Advances podcast, which features Dr. Stevens as its guest expert.
In the podcast, Dr. Stevens explores the following:
Click the podcast player above to listen to the 29-minute episode now, or read on for a short edited excerpt.
Dr. Stevens: We are going to be starting a new trial in glioblastoma patients where we will be using something called 5-ALA, or 5-aminolevulinic acid. It’s a drug that’s used in neurosurgery to light up glioblastoma — it’s taken into the tumor and you can fluoresce it so you can see where it is. You can use photodynamic therapy to affect the oxygenation and kill cells; it’s used in dermatology.
There is some preliminary data looking at using it with sonication, taking this 5-ALA and then, through sonication, using it to kill glioblastoma cells. We have just gotten IRB approval and hope to put our first patient in the trial very soon.