An Overview of Glioblastoma
It is estimated that more than 240,000 cases of brain and nervous system tumors are diagnosed each year around the world. The most common and most lethal of these cancerous tumors are glioblastoma (GBM).
What is Glioblastoma?
Glioblastoma is a type of glioma, which is a brain tumor that begins in the star-shaped glial cells that surround and support nerve cells in the brain. GBM is a Grade IV type of brain tumor. These tumors are also know as an astrocytoma and are very aggressive forms of cancer. While this type of cancer is the most common form of a primary brain tumor, in most cases it does not spread to any other part of the body.
Symptoms of Glioblastoma
Symptoms of GBD may include headaches, weakness on one side of the body, double vision, speech difficulty or seizures. These general neurological symptoms can be broad or ones that stem from specific areas of the brain. Symptoms vary depending on the location of the brain tumor. Other symptoms of GBM may include any of the following:
- Persistent headaches
- Double or blurred vision
- Loss of appetite
- New onset of seizures
- Speech difficulty of gradual onset
- Changes in mood and personality
- Changes in ability to think and learn
Survival Rates for Glioblastoma
The average survival rate following a diagnosis of glioblastoma, is less than two years; however, patients treated with radiotherapy along with temozolomide, a chemotherapy drug, survived for five years according to a 2009 study.
Notably, Arizona Senator John McCain, Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy and Beau Biden, son of the former Vice President Joe Biden all were diagnosed with and died a little over a year after being diagnosed with GBM.
GBM Treatment Challenges
Treatment for glioblastoma tumors present a unique treatment challenge for the following reasons:
- Resistant to conventional therapy
- Brain has limited capacity to repair itself
- Tumors are localized in the brain
- Malignant cells migrate into adjacent brain tissue
- Tumor capillary leakage results in intracranial hypertension and edema
- Neurotoxins used to treat GBM alter the normal activity of the nervous system causing permanent damage to the tissue.
New Research and Treatments for Glioblastoma
Radiation therapy is a common treatment for glioblastoma; however, beyond the direct effect of terminating glioblastoma cells, radiation can change the secretion of endocannabinoids in the body. Endocannadinoids natural role in the body is communication between cells.
Cannabinoids and Radiation – Recent research from Columbia University shows that cannabinoids, a class of chemicals best known because of their presence in cannabis, may be able to enhance the effectiveness of radiotherapy. Researchers examined the role of the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) in communication between cells, in particular its potential to increase death of glioblastoma cells in response to radiation therapy—without causing similar cell death in normal brain cells.
Cannabinoids, Radiation and Temozolomide – Several studies have shown a possible anti-tumor role for cannabinoids by modulating cell signaling pathways, inhibiting angiogenesis, inducing apoptosis, and overcoming chemotherapy resistance. New research has investigators seeking to demonstrate the safety profile of a cannabinoid formulation, when given to glioblastoma patients in conjunction with standard-of-care therapy.
Immunotherapy, using therapies to ramp up a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer has been very successful in the treatment of melanoma and lung cancer. Checkpoint inhibitor therapy, a type of immunotherapy, is now being researched for GBM. Immunotherapies are designed to restore the body’s own complex immune and defense mechanisms to recognize and destroy cancer cells.
Checkpoint inhibitor therapy targets immune checkpoints, which are key regulators of the immune system that stimulate or inhibit its actions. Tumors can use these key regulators to protect themselves from attacks by the immune system. Researcher hope the development of these checkpoint inhibitor therapies may disable these key regulators thereby enabling the body to attack and kill tumor cells itself.
Vaccines and viruses are other types of immunotherapies that are also being explored.
About Diverse Biotech, Inc.
Diverse Biotech Inc. is an innovative, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical research company, committed to discovering and developing novel therapeutics from its proprietary cannabinoid product platform.