News | May 11, 1999

Marker for Brain Tumors Discovered

Researchers at Penn State's College of Medicine (Hershey, PA), along with collaborators at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, have identified a possible marker for certain types of brain tumors. This marker, interleukin 13 (IL 13), could be a valuable diagnostic tool for physicians who deal with patients with these tumors. The results of the research study will be published in the May issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

"Human high-grade gliomas, including glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), are the most prevalent and most difficult-to-manage brain tumors. Due to a variety of forms among these tumors, it was thought, until now, that it would not be possible to identify a common marker attributable to the disease and present in the vast majority of patients with brain tumors," explained Waldemar Debinski, assistant professor of surgery and director of tumor research at Penn State. "We have demonstrated that more than 90% of patients with GBM possess a receptor for an immune regulatory factor, interleukin 13 (IL 13)."

Debinski and his team tested tumors reviewed from 23 patients. Of those, 22 patients had the IL 13 receptor.

Debinski and his team are developing powerful drug therapies to treat these brain tumors. In studies using mice, they have shown that a powerful cytotoxin attaches to the IL 13 and kills the brain tumor in at least 40% of the cases. The cytotoxin does not harm normal brain cells.

Because of these excellent results in animal testing, Debinski and his team hope to begin clinical trials by the end of the year.

For more information: Waldemar Debinski, Asst. Professor of Surgery, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, University Dr., Hershey, PA 17033. Tel: 717-531-4541. Fax: 717-531-3858. Email: