Scientists have used artificial intelligence (AI) to create drug combinations specifically for children with a deadly type of brain cancer.
Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) is a rare and rapidly growing tumor that forms where the spinal cord attaches to the brain.
Children with DIPG are usually expected to survive only nine to 12 months after their diagnosis, and survival rates do not improve until 50 years.
DIPG tumors are difficult to remove surgically because they do not have well-defined boundaries suitable for operation.
A quarter of children with DIPG have a mutation in a gene called ACVR1, but there is no approved treatment to target this mutation.
In a new study, scientists from the Institute of Cancer Research, London (ICR) and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust were able to use AI to determine whether combining the immunosuppressant drug everolimus with an anti-cancer drug might be beneficial. called vandetanib. .
The combination has been shown to be effective in rats and was initially tested on four children.
The study showed that combining the two drugs with DIPG increased the amount of vandetanib in the brains of rats by 56 percent.
The treatment was able to increase survival of up to 14 percent in the mice compared to those receiving the standard control treatment.
Scientists say everolimus may enhance vandetanib’s ability to pass through the blood-brain barrier to treat cancer.
Experts now hope to test the drug combination on a wider group of children in clinical trials.
Chris Jones, Professor of Pediatric Brain Tumor Biology at ICR, said: “DIPG is a rare and aggressive childhood brain cancer, and survival rates have not changed over the past 50 years, so we need to find new treatments for this disease. desperately needed.
“Our study shows how much AI can bring to drug discovery for cancers such as DIPG in proposing new treatment combinations that are unclear to people.
“The AI system suggests using a combination of two existing drugs to treat some children with DIPG – one to target the ACVR1 mutation, and the other to first hide past the blood-brain barrier.
“The treatment increased survival when we tested it in a mouse model, and we’ve already started testing it in a small number of children.
“We still need a full-scale clinical trial to assess whether children can benefit from the treatment, but we’ve moved through this phase faster than ever without the help of AI. went.”
The initial plan for the study came from BenevolentAI – a company that has created an AI drug discovery platform.
Dr Fernando Carceller, Consultant in Pediatric and Adolescent Neuro-Oncology at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, and Leader of the Pediatric and Adolescent Neuro-Oncology and Drug Development Team at the ICR, said: “The clinical results are very preliminary as That draws solid conclusions, but we are working to take this combination forward in a clinical trial for children with ACVR1-mutant DIPG.”
The research is published in the journal cancer discoveryWith funding from groups including Brain Research UK, DIPG Collaborative, Children with Cancer UK and the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /