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February 24, 2024

Australian brain cancer drug set for human trials

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Researchers from University of South Australia (UniSA) have discovered a drug that can treat the most lethal form of brain cancer.

Wang Shudong, Head of Drug Discovery and Development at UniSA, said on Thursday that trials of the experimental drug, Auceliciclib, have proven that it can offer a new treatment for glioblastoma, which currently has no cure in animals.

Glioblastoma is the most deadly form of brain cancer with 95 per cent of patients dying within five years of being diagnosed, according to UniSA.

Wang said that brain cancer is particularly challenging to treat because very few drugs can cross the blood-brain barrier and those that do cause serious side effects.

The blood-brain barrier has previously inhibited treatments for brain cancers because of its ability to protect the brain from infection.

“Auceliciclib has two key advantages over other drugs in development. It is more target-specific and therefore appears to have lower toxicity, and it can reach cancer cells in the brain more effectively,’’ Wang said in a media release.

The team is now preparing for human clinical trials of the drug, which will be conducted by an Adelaide-based biotechnology company.

“This will be the first clinical trial in the world of this drug, and I am very excited that a cancer therapeutic discovered at UniSA will be tested firstly in Adelaide for the benefit of South Australian cancer patients,’’ Wang said.

If Auceliciclib proves effective in human clinical trials, it will also be an important breakthrough for other breast and lung cancers which metastasize into the brain, according to the researchers.

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