Experiments Show an Antibiotic Being Able to Treat Pediatric Brain Tumors

​A team of researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center discovered that a variant of the medication DON has the ability to expand the life of mice suffering from deadly pediatric brain tumors.

Survival Rate Increased From 21 up to 45 Days

DON is an antibiotic secluded for the first time over sixty years ago from soil bacteria. The drug can allegedly extend the survival of cases with tumors marked by a high manifestation of a cancerous gene known as MYC. The results have been published in two separate studies on Clinical Cancer Research and Translational Oncology, respectively.

For the ongoing experiments, scientists from Johns Hopkins administrated a weekly injection to mice suffering from high-MYC-expressing AT/RT cell lines and managed to expand the animals’ average survival times from 21 to 36 days, and then to 45 days when DON was mixed with the chemotherapy medication carboplatin​.

The researchers conducted metabolic experiments that revealed that DON obstructed glutamine from being transformed into glutathione, one of the main detoxifying substances that cancer cells utilize to impede carboplatin chemotherapy. DON drained up the cancer cells of glutathione, which in turn made carboplatin chemotherapy more efficient.

Encouraging Results

DON was extracted from soil bacteria in Peru. Due to its capacity for blocking glutamine, it instantly became a suitor for cancer therapy but has never been tested in tumors manifesting high MYC. Johns Hopkins scientists have managed to lead numerous experiments on mice carrying this type of cancer and subjected to administration of DON.

“The initial efficacy that we show of DON prodrugs in these tumors is encouraging,” says Eric Raabe, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine​, “and leads us to believe that we will be able to further improve the survival of laboratory mice bearing aggressive MYC medulloblastoma.”

​In the future, the researchers plan to discover more about the perfect time to add DON to a therapeutic diet and how well it will merge with other drugs used to treat pediatric brain cancers.​

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