Pharmacy students at the University of Findlay, Ohio, are working to develop an oral compound that treats Glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer that develops in the brain or spinal cord.
This form of cancer is almost impossible to remove and the five-year survival rate is less than 10 percent. The students have been incorporating chemistry, pharmacology, and physiology to work out an effective way for direct medication to the brain.
If the experiment goes well, there will be no need for risky medical procedures requiring physical access to the brain tissue. The project belongs to the associate professor Rahul Khupse, Ph.D., who has been working with the students for four years. He has taught the students to perform the reactions, choose the methodology, and find compounds.
After several attempts, the students have created a compound named RK 15, a highly reactive compound that can kill cells and generate covalent bonds. Prof. Khupse and his team of students are going to begin animal testing next year.
Presently, it is difficult for medication to reach certain brain parts because of a lining called the blood-brain barrier (BBB). While the lining is beneficial for healthy individuals, it causes issues for the patients having brain tumors, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, and brain tumors.
The students are trying to find a compound that can breach the BBB and then the medication will be attached to the compound to treat the diseases. Several compounds, via trial and error, have been used to find the final product.
According to Maribel Llamas, a student on the project, “Even when a compound did not work, we still learned something and that is the point of research.”
Another student researcher, Jacob Reyes, says, “What they have right now is great in terms of glioblastoma, but it’s not enough in terms of survival rates that you’re seeing.”