Revolutionary New Gel Cures 100% of Mice With Aggressive Brain Cancer, Study Finds

Glioblastoma is a brain tumor that is among the deadliest and most difficult to treat. Now a scientific team has successfully tested in mice a gel that combines an anticancer drug and an antibody capable of reaching areas that surgery and other drugs can miss.

The description of the strategy, which achieved one hundred percent survival of the animals, is published in the PNAS journal.

According to scientists at Johns Hopkins University, “the new gel offers hope for the future treatment of glioblastoma because it integrates an anti-cancer drug and antibodiesa combination of therapies that is difficult to administer simultaneously due to the molecular composition of the ingredients”.

Translating the results obtained in mice

However, this research is carried out in mice. Henry Brem, chief neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital and author of the paper, stressed the challenge of translating the results of the gel in the laboratory into therapies with substantial clinical implications.

The gel solution developed by Honggang Cui's team consists of nanometer-sized filaments made of paclitaxel.a drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for breast, lung, and other types of tumors.

The filaments serve as a vehicle to deliver an antibody called aCD47. By uniformly coating the tumor cavity, the gel consistently releases the medication over several weeks, explains a statement from the university.

The gel is capable of filling in the tiny grooves that remain after the surgical removal of a brain tumor.

“It can reach areas that surgery might miss and that current drugs cannot reach to kill persistent cancer cells and suppress tumor growth,” the authors summarize.

The preparation also appears to trigger an immune response that the mouse's body finds difficult to activate on its own in the fight against glioblastoma.

When the researchers reinduced a new glioblastoma tumor in the surviving mice, their immune systems defeated the cancer on its own without additional medication.

According to the researchers, it appears that the gel not only stops cancer, but helps rewire the immune system to discourage recurrence through immunological memory.

Still, surgery is essential to this approach, the researchers noted; applying the gel directly to the brain without surgical removal of the tumor resulted in a 50% survival rate.


One of the gold standard therapies for glioblastoma, developed by Johns Hopkins and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1990s, is known commercially as Gliadel.

It is a biodegradable polymer that also delivers medication to the brain after surgical removal of the tumor.

Gliadel showed significant survival rates in laboratory experiments, but the results obtained with the new gel are most impressive, according to Betty Tyler, also an author and professor at the university of the same name.

“We don't usually see 100% survival in mouse models of this disease,” he said.

Non-representative model for humans

Jordi Bruna Escuer, from the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute, points out that the animal model on which the study is based is not at all representative of what a human glioblastoma is.

"They have worked with a murine cell line in which a series of alterations were chemically induced that morphologically mimic glioblastoma, but at a molecular level they have nothing to do with human glioblastoma."

For this scientist, who does not sign the article, "to affirm that the mouse's immune reaction to this experimental glioma is the same as that of the patient is a more than considerable leap of faith."

There is still a long way to go before the therapy they propose can be tested in patients to first assess safety and then some type of efficacy.“, indicates to Science Media Center Spain.

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