A medical research team has completed animal testing on a drug that fights an aggressive type of brain tumor and found that the average life expectancy of mice doubled after they were treated, the leader of the research team said yesterday.
Harn Horng-jyh (韓鴻志), a professor at China Medical University, said his team is working with a biotechnology company to develop a drug against Glioblastoma multiforme, which is an aggressive type of malignant primary brain tumor.
The treatment of this kind of tumor usually involves surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, but the drug aims to provide an alternative, Harn said.
Lin Shinn-zong (林欣榮), chairman of the Taiwan Neurosurgical Society, said this type of tumor is fast growing and has a high recurrence rate.
It can grow to 16 times its size in just one month and the life expectancy of patients, who are often not diagnosed until the late stages, is 12 to 18 months on average, he added.
Harn said a steady release of the drug into the tumors inhibited their growth in mice.
About 35 percent of the mice in the test lived for up to 250 days after one treatment and no side effects were seen during the experiment, Harn said.
The main ingredient of the drug is z-butylidenephthalide, a natural compound that can be extracted from the Chinese medicinal herb Angelica sinensis, or Dong quai.
There are about 400 new brain tumor cases every year in Taiwan, 60 percent of which are malignant, Lin said.
The five-year survival rate of patients with malignant brain tumors is only 3.4 percent, he said.
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