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S. Korean researchers find way to fight brain tumors with drugs

A group of South Korean researchers said Monday that they found a way to use drugs to fight brain tumors that are currently treated with only surgery and chemotherapy.

The researchers, led by POSTEC chemistry professor Chung Sung-kee, discovered a way to breach the "blood-brain barrier" to permit anti-tumor drugs to work.

The natural barrier protects the brain from contaminated blood, but it also made it effectively impossible to use drugs to treat brain-related diseases, like tumors. Currently, doctors have to operate or resort to chemotherapy to deal with brain tumors or glioblastoma, which can be dangerous and lead to considerable health side effects.

"The breakthrough was made by developing a 'drug delivery vector' extracted from a substance called Sorbitol that can allow potent drugs like Paclitaxel to reach the glioblastoma through the barrier," the professor said.

He said tests conducted on laboratory mice in the past four years showed good results, and tests on more advanced animals and humans are expected to take an addition four or five years. After clinical tests have been completed, work could start with pharmaceutical companies to develop a workable drug for human patients.

The discovery has been published in the latest online issue of  MedChemComm, a British medical publication. (Yonhap News)