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Brain cancer breakthrough


Brain cancer breakthrough

QUEENSLAND scientists have identified a new target for treating the deadliest of adult brain cancers.


They have discovered a protein, EphA3, that is present in about half of all cases of the most common form of adult brain cancer, known as glioblastoma multiforme.


Queensland Institute of Medical Research scientist Bryan Day said EphA3 was particularly found in the most aggressive brain cancer.


He said the protein was believed to play a role in tumour formation.


Dr Day said the discovery was exciting because an antibody treatment, designed to target EphA3, was already undergoing trials in leukaemia patients in the US.


His QIMR colleague Andrew Boyd first discovered EphA3 in leukaemia cells more than 20 years ago and developed the experimental therapy.


Dr Day has found that by binding the antibody, known as IIIA4, to a radioactive isotope, the treatment has shown promise in animal trials.


Human trials are at least two or three years away.


"We still need to do more testing in animals and then we need to raise the funding," Dr Day said.


Glioblastoma multiforme is usually fatal, killing about 1000 Australians a year, most within two years of diagnosis.


Prof Boyd said new treatments were an "urgent clinical challenge".


The research is published today in the journal Cancer Cell.

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