Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Scientists Break Blood-Brain Barrier to Allow Cancer Drugs In

Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Last Updated: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Oxford University scientists have found a way of delivering drugs more effectively to treat life-threatening cancers that have spread to the brain.

The study, in mice and tissue samples, used a protein called TNF that can track down sites in the brain where cancer has spread by recognising a marker found only on tumour blood vessels.

The researchers found that TNF can home in on these sites and temporarily open the blood-brain barrier (BBB) allowing drugs to pass from the blood system into the tumour.

The BBB acts as a shield that prevents potentially dangerous particles such as bacteria entering the brain. But it's this same shield that stops cancer drugs reaching tumours that have spread to the brain.

The TNF protein only broke down the BBB in the blood vessels that pass through the tumour, leaving the healthy parts of the brain undamaged by potentially toxic drugs.

The research showed that when TNF is injected into the bloodstream, the breast cancer drug herceptin (trastuzumab) – which is not normally able to cross the BBB – can reach cancer cells in the brain.

The research is reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Dr Nicola Sibson of the Department of Oncology at the University of Oxford said: 'Treatments that work very well against the original site of the cancer lose their effectiveness when the cancer spreads to the brain – as these drugs are prevented from getting to the tumour because of the blood-brain barrier.

'A number of attempts have been made to open up the BBB but they've all struggled because they're either not specific enough to open the BBB only at the site of the tumour or not effective enough to allow the drug across to kill the cancer.'

Dr Kat Arney, science information manager at Cancer Research UK, which funded the work, said: 'Getting treatments through the blood-brain barrier remains one of the greatest challenges for cancer researchers. This exciting result points the way to a potentially game-changing moment in finding ways to treat cancers that have spread to the brain. We now need to test this approach in cancer patients to see if it will have the same effect.'

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,600+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Investment In Cancer Research At Oxford University
Centre for Molecular Medicine to focus on cancer genomics and molecular diagnostics, through a partnership with the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute.
Friday, October 24, 2014
Genetic Tracking Identifies Cancer Stem Cells in Patients
The gene mutations driving cancer have been tracked for the first time in patients back to a distinct set of cells at the root of cancer – cancer stem cells.
Friday, May 16, 2014
Eating Organic Food Doesn't Lower Overall Cancer Risk
Women who always or mostly eat organic foods have the same likelihood of developing cancer as women who eat conventionally produced foods.
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
New Trial of Personalized Cancer Treatment Begins in Oxford
Phase I trial in Oxford will investigate a new drug, called CXD101.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
'Jekyll and Hyde' Protein Offers New Route to Cancer Drugs
The mood changes of a 'Jekyll-and-Hyde' protein, which sometimes boosts tumour cell growth and at other times suppresses it, have been explained.
Friday, September 27, 2013
Sex Hormones Linked to Breast Cancer Risk in Women Under 50
Premenopausal women with high levels of sex hormones in their blood have an increased risk of breast cancer, though further research is needed to understand this link.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
One-two Combination Floors Cancer
A new tag-team approach to combating a type of skin cancer is showing early promise in the lab.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
46 Gene Sequencing Test for Cancer Patients on the NHS
The first multi-gene test that can help predict cancer patients' responses to treatment using the latest DNA sequencing techniques has been launched in the NHS.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Rare Genetic Faults Identified in Families with Bowel Cancer
The findings are published in the journal Nature Genetics.
Friday, January 04, 2013
Genetic Cause of Insulin Sensitivity Offers Diabetes Clues
The first single gene cause of increased sensitivity to the hormone insulin has been discovered by a team of Oxford University researchers.
Friday, September 14, 2012
Probing What Fuels Cancer
Cancer is often described as a genetic disease, after all the transition a cell goes through in becoming cancerous tends to be driven by changes to the cell's DNA.
Monday, August 06, 2012
Scientific News
Researchers Disguise Drugs As Platelets to Target Cancer
Researchers have for the first time developed a technique that coats anticancer drugs in membranes made from a patient’s own platelets.
A New Single-Molecule Tool to Observe Enzymes at Work
A team of scientists at the University of Washington and the biotechnology company Illumina have created an innovative tool to directly detect the delicate, single-molecule interactions between DNA and enzymatic proteins.
Milestone Single-Biomolecule Imaging Technique May Advance Drug Design
The first nanometer resolved image of individual tobacco mosaic virions shows the potential of low-energy electron holography for imaging biomolecules at a single particle level; a milestone in structural biology and a potential new tool for drug design.
Opening the Door to Safer, More Precise Cancer Therapies
New method regulates when, and how strongly, cancer-killing therapeutic T cells are activated.
Biologists Find Unexpected Role for Amyloid-Forming Protein
Yeast protein could offer clues to how Alzheimer’s plaques form in the brain.
Revolutionary Gene-editing Technique to Stop AIDS Virus in Its Tracks
UNLV personalized medicine researchers seeking patent on potential HIV cure. Their technique uses a plant protein widely used in agriculture industry.
Viruses Join Fight Against Harmful Bacteria
Engineered viruses could combat human disease and improve food safety.
Tracking Changes in DNA Methylation In Real Time At Single-Cell Resolution
Whitehead Institute researchers have developed a methodology to monitor changes in DNA methylation over time in individual cells.
Virus Re-Engineered to Deliver Targeted Therapies
Researchers stripped a virus of its infectious machinery and turned its benign core into a delivery vehicle that can target sick cells while leaving healthy tissue alone.
Exposure to Pesticides In Childhood Linked to Cancer
Young children who are exposed to insecticides inside their homes may be slightly more at risk for developing leukemia or lymphoma during childhood, according to a meta-analysis by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers.

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,600+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos