Experimental drug shown to 'significantly' slow progression of brain cancer

Human brain scan.
(Image credit: Roxana Wegner / Getty Images)

A new experimental drug was found to "significantly" reduce the progression of brain cancer, Reuters reported.

Vorasidenib, created by Servier Group, a private drug developer, was shown to slow the progression of brain tumors by an average of over 16 months, per Bloomberg. The results of the 331-patient study were published June 4 in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The study's lead author, Ingo Mellinghoff, described this as "a very big finding," adding that the drug "is the first molecularly targeted treatment for diffuse glioma." Vorasidenib specifically works on Grade 2 gliomas, which are "progressive, malignant brain tumors" that are "more common in adults but can also occur in children and teenagers," according to Reuters. The drug blocks a specific enzyme mutated in low-grade gliomas, keeping them from progressing and postponing the need for further treatment like chemotherapy.

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"What you just heard is a trial that was well done and well thought out: to use an oral, targeted, well-tolerated therapy to see if we could delay the use of our standard chemotherapy and radiation," Wake Forest Baptist Health's Dr. Glenn Lesser commented at an American Society of Clinical Oncology briefing. "The results are quite striking and they're statistically highly significant, and more importantly, they're clinically very, very significant."

Servier Group is working to get the drug approved by the Food & Drug Administration for use in the U.S.

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Devika Rao

Devika Rao is a staff writer for The Week. She graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Environment and Sustainability and a minor in Climate Change. Previously, she worked as a Policy and Advocacy associate in the nonprofit space advocating for environmental action from the business perspective. She is passionate about the environment, books, and music.