In children, brain cancer is the number one cause of cancer-related deaths. Brain tumors are extremely aggressive and often resistant to treatment since many drugs cannot pass through the blood brain barrier. At the Queensland Institute for Molecular Bioscience, researchers mapped the genes of medulloblastoma tumors to find out why they are so deadly and what, if anything, could be used to kill the cancer cells that take over so quickly. Once the genes responsible for the tumors lethal strength were identified, researchers looked for drugs that are already available that have been effective in shutting down those genetic expressions.
After the analysis of the genes involved in medulloblastoma, researchers predicted that Palbociclib, a drug approved for the treatment of ER-positive and HER2-negative breast cancer, could be effective. In clinical trials, the outcome was quite good with this drug. In some cases, medullablastoma tumor growth was shut down, and in a few, the tumors shrunk enough to allow for survival. The drug was only used for short time and produced these results. While there were some recurrences, likely to due to resistant cells in the brain tumors, the team believes that adding palbociclib to chemotherapy regimens could reduce recurrence as well.