611 W. Union Street
Benson, AZ 85602
(520) 586-0800

member support line
M-F 5pm-8pm
24/7 weekends/holidays

AzCH Nurse Assist Line


611 W. Union Street
Benson, AZ 85602
(520) 586-0800

AzCH Nurse Assist Line


powered by centersite dot net
Health Sciences
Basic InformationLatest News
Certain Blood Thinners Can Raise Risk of 'Delayed' Bleeding After Head InjuryAHA News: Former NFL Players With Lots of Concussions May Have Higher Stroke RiskMore Years Playing Football, More Brain Lesions on MRI: StudyNew Insights Into What Might Drive Parkinson's DiseaseBrain's 'White Matter' Changes in People With AutismWearable Vibration Device May Ease Parkinson's TremorNeurologists' Group Issues New Treatment Guidelines for Early Parkinson'sGene Therapy Could Be Big Advance Against HemophiliaBlood Test Looks at Patients' Whole Genome to Spot Rare Inherited DiseasesSales of Unproven, Unapproved Stem Cell Therapies Are BoomingHow Bilingual Brains Shift Quickly Between LanguagesMouse Study Offers Hope for Gene Therapy Against Parkinson's DiseaseInsomnia Tied to Raised Risk of AneurysmAHA News: Could the Path to Better Brain Health Involve Better Mouth Care?More Americans Are Dying From Parkinson's Disease: StudyTen Years On, Gene Therapy Still Beating Most Cases of 'Bubble Boy' Immune DiseaseResearchers Find Better Way to Fight Breast Cancer That Has Spread to BrainShape, Size of Brain Arteries May Predict Stroke RiskTracking Key Protein Helps Predict Outcomes in TBI PatientsSigns of Early Alzheimer's May Be Spotted in Brain StemCould Cholesterol Help Drive Alzheimer's Disease?Insights Into Genes Driving Epilepsy Could Help With TreatmentFewer American Adults Are Getting Malignant Brain TumorsLong-Term Outlook for Most With Serious Brain Injury Is Better Than ThoughtStroke Prevented His Speech, But Brain Implant Brought It BackWHO Calls for Global Registry of Human Genome EditingScientists Track Spirituality in the Human BrainNew Insights Into How Eating Disorders Alter the BrainGene Differences Could Have Black Patients Undergoing Unnecessary BiopsiesCRISPR Therapy Fights Rare Disease Where Protein Clogs OrgansNew Genetic Insights Into Cause of ALSDeep Brain Stimulation Therapy May Help Parkinson's Patients Long TermAmazon Tribe Could Hold Key to Health of Aging BrainsMan Blind for 40 Years Regains Some Sight Through Gene TherapyNew Insights Into Treating Mild Head Injuries'Ghosts and Guardian Angels': New Insights Into Parkinson's HallucinationsHigher Education Won't Help Preserve the Aging Brain: StudyScientists Create Embryos With Cells From Monkeys, Humans'Game of Thrones' Study Reveals the Power of Fiction on the MindScientists Create Human Tear Glands That Cry in the LabAHA News: How Grief Rewires the Brain and Can Affect Health – and What to Do About ItCould Taking a Swing at Golf Help Parkinson's Patients?Autopsy Study May Explain Why Some COVID Survivors Have 'Brain Fog'Gene Study Probes Origins of Addison's DiseaseCould a Common Prostate Drug Help Prevent Parkinson's?AHA News: Hormones Are Key in Brain Health Differences Between Men and WomenNerve Drug Might Curb Spinal Cord Damage, Mouse Study SuggestsIs There a 'Risk-Taking' Center in the Brain?AHA News: Dr. Dre Recovering From a Brain Aneurysm. What Is That?Can 2 Nutrients Lower Your Risk for Parkinson's?
Questions and AnswersLinksBook Reviews
Related Topics

Medical Disorders
Mental Disorders
Mental Health Professions

Researchers Find Better Way to Fight Breast Cancer That Has Spread to Brain

HealthDay News
by By Amy Norton HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Oct 18th 2021

new article illustration

MONDAY, Oct. 18, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers may have found a noninvasive way to temporarily open the brain's borders to allow tumor-fighting medication inside.

By necessity, the brain is shielded by a layer of specialized cells called the blood-brain barrier. Its job is to allow needed substances in -- like oxygen and sugar -- while keeping out substances that could be toxic.

Unfortunately, that means medications often cannot penetrate the brain to any great extent to treat tumors or damaged tissue.

Now scientists are reporting a first: They used an advanced ultrasound technique to noninvasively -- and temporarily -- open the blood-brain barrier in four patients with breast cancer that had spread to the brain.

That allowed the researchers to deliver the drug trastuzumab (Herceptin) to the patients' brain tumors.

The findings, published Oct. 13 in the journal Science Translational Medicine, are preliminary and represent only a "proof-of-concept."

"We're at the first stage, showing this is feasible and safe," said senior researcher Dr. Nir Lipsman, a neurosurgeon and scientist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, in Toronto.

But there were also signs the technique increased the amount of drug that reached brain tumors. And, on average, there was a small reduction in the patients' brain tumor size.

That finding needs to be interpreted cautiously, the researchers stressed, but it lays the groundwork for larger studies.

Ultimately, Lipsman said, the goal is to show whether the technique improves long-term control of brain tumor growth and prolongs patients' survival.

Breast cancer is highly treatable, especially when caught early. Among women diagnosed when the cancer is confined to the breast, 99% are still alive five years later, according to the American Cancer Society. That survival rate drops to 28% among women with metastatic breast cancer -- meaning tumors have arisen in distant sites of the body, such as the brain.

The new study included four women with HER2-positive breast cancer that had spread to the brain. In HER2-positive breast cancers, tumor cells carry a particular protein (HER2) that helps them grow. Certain drugs, like Herceptin, target that protein.

However, only a relatively small amount of Herceptin can penetrate the brain, according to Lipsman's team.

So the researchers tested an approach to briefly opening the brain's protective border: "focused" ultrasound, performed with the help of MRI as a visual guide.

If the blood-brain barrier is pictured as a layer of plastic wrap, Lipsman said, the technique essentially "pulls apart" the plastic wrap at certain spots -- giving the medication a port of entry to the brain.

"It closes within 24 hours," Lipsman noted.

Using advanced imaging techniques, the researchers were able to verify the approach increased the amount of Herceptin that penetrated the patients' brain tumors. In the following months, all four women showed some reduction in the volume of their tumors.

"Of course," Lipsman noted, "the blood-brain barrier is there for a reason." So the concern in opening it, even temporarily, is that toxins could be inadvertently ushered through.

But there were no safety issues in this initial study.

Dr. Charles Shapiro is a professor and oncologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

He said a number of drug combinations -- including Herceptin, along with the drugs tucatinib (Tukysa) and capecitabine (Xeloda) -- do have "activity" against brain tumors in patients with HER2-positive breast cancer.

Shapiro also noted that when cancer has spread to the brain, the blood-brain barrier is already "disrupted." So whether this technique for opening the barrier will ultimately improve drug delivery to the brain remains to be seen, said Shapiro, who was not involved in the study.

If further studies are promising, he said, then the final test would be a "phase 3" trial where patients would be randomly assigned to receive standard drug therapy with or without the ultrasound technique.

And if the approach does pan out, Lipsman said it could potentially be used to treat not only tumors, but other brain conditions where drug delivery is difficult -- such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more on treating advanced breast cancer.

SOURCES: Nir Lipsman, MD, PhD, neurosurgeon, scientist, and director, Harquail Centre for Neuromodulation, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Canada; Charles Shapiro, MD, professor, medicine, hematology and medical oncology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City; Oct. 13, 2021 Science Translational Medicine, online