Laser brain cancer treatment may bring extra advantage

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May 9, 2016

Neurosurgeons using lasers to treat brain cancer might have unveiled new treatment options for patients after discovering their technique breaks down the blood-brain barrier.

The blood-brain barrier shields the brain from toxins in the blood, but it also blocks potentially helpful chemotherapy drugs. The blood-brain barrier acts as a natural “security system.”

The study is now in a so-called Phase II clinical trial where the treatment is given to a larger group of people.

Laser technology has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration since 2009 as a surgical tool to treat brain tumors. A small laser-tipped probe heats up and kills tumors from the inside out.

In the trial, patients have been given a powerful chemotherapy drug that is known as one of the least likely to penetrate the blood-brain barrier after undergoing the laser therapy.

The research has yet to be published, but Dr. Eric Leuthard, a professor of neurosurgery at Washington University in St. Louis, told Reuters that the initial results are promising.

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