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Researchers at VTCRI working on new treatments for glioblastoma

Rob Gourdie and his team at @VTCRI are working on two different projects that could lead to curing glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer (Photo: Annie Andersen)

ROANOKE, Va. (WSET) -- Senator McCain's cancer has brought world wide attention to glioblastoma, but at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, researchers have already been working for years to kill that deadly form of brain cancer.

VTCRI professor Rob Gourdie explained, glioblastoma can be harder to treat than most forms of brain cancer. "Glioblastoma is a particularly nasty type of cancer because it sends out new seed cells which generate new tumors." It's a process called metastasis.

That's why he is happy that his team could be close to finding a way to get rid of that form of cancer.

Currently Gourdie's team at VTCRI is working on two different projects for curing glioblastoma.

The first involves working with drug resistance. Gourdie explained that another problem with glioblastoma is that the cancer can become resistant to the drugs that are used to treat it. Gourdie believes his team may have made a drug that combats that drug resistance. He explained, "We could take actual tumor cells, treat them with our drug and then treat them with the standard drug and we could recover the sensitivity of the cells by a pretreatment with our drug."

That one is already under clinical testing.

His second project involves working with the cancer's stem cells. It has only be tested in petri dishes so far, but Gourdie is feeling positive about their work so far. "One of the drugs we've developed seems to be very effective in targeting these cancer stem cells, basically killing them," he said.

The cancer stem cells are what cause the cancer to grow and form new tumors, and by killing those off, Gourdie feels that will help with treating the cancer.

These projects are both years away from being available to the public, but just his work already is giving Gourdie hope for future cancer patients. "It is a great tragedy that one of our leaders, John McCain, has this awful disease, but the fact that is that it is a disease that many families have to suffer and deal with."

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