Altitude sickness drug may help brain tumour patients

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New York, July 10 (IANS) A medication used to treat altitude sickness, glaucoma, epilepsy, heart failure and seizures may also help people suffering from fast-growing brain tumor known as glioblastoma live longer, according to a study.

The researchers found that most glioblastoma patients with high levels of a protein called BCL-3 were unresponsive to the beneficial effects of temozolomide (TMZ) — a frequently used chemotherapy for the disease.

The protein shields cancer cells from TMZ damage by activating a protective enzyme known as carbonic anhydrase II.

The team explained that the altitude sickness drug, called acetazolamide, is a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor and can restore TMZ’s ability to kill tumour cells. Thus, adding acetazolamide to TMZ may help those with glioblastoma to survive longer.

“We tested this combination treatment strategy in several animal models. It cured some of them while others had a 30 to 40 per cent increase in survival time,” said study director, Bahktiar Yamini from University of Chicago in Illinois, US.

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Further, for the study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the team looked at BCL-3 level from previous human studies.

They found that patients with lower levels of BCL-3 who were treated with TMZ survived longer than patients who had high levels of this biomarker.

“An important feature of predictors like BCL-3 is that they are informative. They can identify pathways to improve treatment response,” the authors noted.

–IANS

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