Making radiotherapy more effective against cancers that have spread to the brain
Many cancers are now treatable thanks to improved diagnosis and effective treatments that target the primary cancer. However, as people live longer with cancer there has been a parallel increase in the number of people whose cancer returns – particularly in the brain. Brain cancer, and other cancers that have spread to the brain, can be very difficult to treat due to their location making surgery challenging, and the lack of drugs that can cross over into the brain and attack the tumour. Radiation therapy is a treatment option for tumours in the brain, but even though it has proven to be able to penetrate the brain, it doesn’t benefit every patient.
Dr Manuel Valiente and his team based at the National Cancer Research Centre, Madrid, Spain, have recently discovered that a specific protein found in cancers that have spread to the brain seems to be linked to the cancer being resistant to radiotherapy. Dr Valiente now wants to study this link in more detail to find out how this protein controls resistance to radiotherapy and its role in the spread of cancer to the brain. Ultimately, they want to work out if this protein can be used as a marker to identify patients that will benefit from radiotherapy, and see if they can target the protein therapeutically to make radiotherapy more effective.