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Synthetic radioactive scorpion venom destroys brain tumors


Blame me for the RAZR's
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Washington, July 29: Scientists are experimenting with a treatment based on a man-made version of scorpion venom, loaded with radioactive iodine, as a way to target brain tumors called gliomas.
The study showed that a synthetic version of the protein, usually found in the venom of giant yellow Israeli scorpions, targeted tumor cells but did not harm the healthy cells of brain cancer patients.
The protein fragment or 'peptide,' known as TM-601, was used to deliver radioactive iodine to the tumor cells, as it has the unusual ability to pass through the blood-brain barrier that prevents most substances from reaching the brain.
TM-601 could be used to deliver chemotherapy directly to the cancer cells, said lead researcher Dr Adam Mameluk and indeed may also have anti-cancer properties itself.
"We're using the TM-601 primarily as a carrier to transport radioactive iodine to glioma cells, although there are data to suggest that it may also slow down the growth of tumor cells. If studies continue to confirm this, we may be able to use it in conjunction with other treatments, such as chemotherapy, because there may be a synergistic effect. In other words, TM-601's ability to impede cancer growth could allow us to reduce the dose of chemotherapy to achieve a therapeutic effect," said Mamelak, who serves as co-director of the Pituitary Center at Cedars-Sinai.
Early clinical trials have shown that TM-601 can be safely administered to glioma patients following surgery and larger clinical trials are now being planned.
The researchers, based at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre's Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute, also noted that TM-601 may be effective against other cancers.
"Despite advances in surgical technology, radiation therapy and cancer-killing drugs, length of survival has remained virtually unchanged for patients with gliomas," said Keith L. Black, M.D., director of the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute and interim chair of Cedars-Sinai's Department of Neurosurgery. "Only in the recent past have we begun to discover some of the molecular, genetic and immunologic mechanisms that enable these deadly cancer cells to evade or defy our treatments, and we are developing innovative approaches, such as this one, that capitalize on these revelations."
The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. (ANI)

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