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New Brain Tumor Treatment Involves Scorpion Venom – New Narcolepsy Drug used to Ease Fatigue and Depression in Cancer Patients

June 5th 2006

New Brain Tumor Treatment Involves Scorpion Venom – New Narcolepsy Drug used to Ease Fatigue and Depression in Cancer Patients

Brain Tumor

Researchers say that a drug used to treat narcolepsy, modafinil, (Provigil), has shown promise in relieving symptoms of fatigue in patients with brain tumors.  These improvements have been shown to be “clinically meaningful” in all areas tested including cognitive abilities (21 percent average improvement), mood (35 percent average improvement) and fatigue (average improvement of 47 percent improvement).

The drugs have already been used to help treat depression and fatigue in patients suffering from with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, stroke, cocaine addiction, HIV infection, and narcolepsy, a condition that causes spontaneous, sometimes unexpected sleep.


The study author, Thomas A. Kaleita, says that "Modafinil was very effective in improving neurocognitive abilities, fatigue levels and depression symptoms in adult brain tumor patients.  The improvement in depressive symptoms was quite a surprise for us."  Kaleita is assistant professor of psychiatry at UCLA.

The pilot study was presented at the 42nd annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The researchers looked at 30 patients with different types of brain tumors, most of whom had severe attention, memory and fatigue problems.  All of the tumors were primary tumors, not metastases of other cancers.  All of the patients underwent some combination of neurosurgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.


The participants took modafinil, at the dose considered optimal for them, every day for eight weeks.  Of these patients, only three had no response.  Researchers said this could be because of the location of the tumor.  There were mild to moderate side effects. 

In another study, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham reported, at the same meeting this week, that a promising brain tumor drug has been developed and has shown favorable safety results in a Phase II clinical trial in treating patients with brain tumors. 


Researchers have use a synthetic version of chlorotoxin, a naturally occurring peptide derived from scorpion venom, coupled with the radioisotope, iodine 131, which is delivered directly to the brain to target brain tumor cells.  The radiation dose of iodine targeted the tumor cells without affecting nearby healthy cells.  .

“We have been impressed with the low toxicity seen in this study,” reports John Fiveash, M.D., associate professor of radiation oncology. The drug is being developed by TransMolecular, Inc.  

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Dan Wilson
Best Syndication

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                   Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:51 PM