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Study Analyzes Drug Effect on Brain Cancer

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October 5, 2004

A Northwestern University cancer researcher is conducting a study that will compare the effects of whole brain radiation therapy with supplemental oxygen without or with EfaproxynTM (efaproxiral), an experimental radiation sensitizer, in participants with brain cancer originating from metastatic breast cancer.

It is believed that efaproxiral may improve the improve the effectiveness of whole brain radiation therapy in brain metastases from breast cancer, according to Virginia Kaklamani, M.D., assistant professor of medicine in the division of hematology/oncology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Kaklamani is a researcher at The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University and a staff hematologist/oncologist at the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation and at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Results from an earlier study suggested that the addition of efaproxiral to whole brain radiation therapy doubled survival among patients with metastatic breast cancer and significantly improved their quality of life.

Brain metastases occur when tumors spread to the brain from the primary tumor site in another part of the body. Whole brain radiation therapy is used to relieve symptoms and prolong survival and is the standard of care for treating patients with brain metastases.

Breast cancer is the second most common cause of brain metastases after lung cancer, accounting for 14 to 20 percent of the total incidence of brain metastases.

Efaproxiral is the first synthetic small-molecule compound designed to “sensitize” oxygen-deprived areas of tumors prior to radiation therapy by facilitating release of oxygen from hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein contained in red blood cells, and increasing the level of oxygen in tumors.

The presence of oxygen in tumors is an essential element for the effectiveness of radiation therapy in the treatment of cancer. By increasing tumor oxygenation at the time of treatment, efaproxiral may enhance the efficacy of standard radiation therapy. Unlike chemotherapies or other radiation sensitizers, efaproxiral does not have to cross the blood brain barrier or enter the tumor to be effective.

To qualify as a participant in this study, you must have brain metastases from breast cancer and not had any previous treatment for brain metastases, including brain surgery and any form of radiation to the brain. During study treatment, you may continue to receive all therapies except chemotherapy.

For information on the efaproxiral study, call 312-695-0320.

Topics: Research