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Clinical trials at Cleveland Clinic may give hope to those diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer

According to the American Brain Tumor Association, glioblastoma survival is very poor – most patients do not live longer than 15 months.

New Cleveland Clinic research shows for the first time that ibrutinib, an FDA-approved drug for lymphoma and leukemia, may also help treat the most common – and deadliest – type of brain tumor.

The findings, published in Science Translational Medicine, offer hope that the drug may one day be used in patients with glioblastoma and improve poor survival rates.

The Clinical Trial testing the drug in humans started Monday.

The team of researchers, led by Shideng Bao, Ph.D., of Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute found that ibrutinib slowed brain tumor growth in mice and extended survival more than 10-times the rate of the current standard-of-care chemotherapy drug.

They found in human glioblastoma cells that ibrutinib works by inhibiting glioma stem cells – an aggressive type of brain cancer cell that tends to resist treatment and spread.

Furthermore, they showed that combining ibrutinib with radiation therapy prevents glioblastoma cells from developing this resistance. Combination therapy overcame resistance and extended lifespan more effectively than either radiation or ibrutinib treatment alone.

According to the American Brain Tumor Association, glioblastoma survival is very poor – most patients do not live longer than 15 months.

Ibrutinib (Imbruvica) has been approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to treat certain types of leukemia and lymphoma, as well as chronic graft versus host disease.