An experimental drug derived from cottonseed shows promise in retarding growth of a most lethal form of brain tumor, according to UAB researchers who recently completed a Phase II clinical trial of its efficacy.

John Fiveash is the lead researcher testing an experimental drug derived from    cottonseed that shows promise in retarding the growth of brain tumor cells.
John Fiveash, M.D., an associate professor in the UAB Department of Radiation Oncology and the lead researcher on the study, says early evidence shows a potent compound in AT-101 overcomes the abnormal growth patterns of tumor cells in glioblastoma multiforme, which are fast-growing, difficult-to-treat brain tumors.

Clinical trial participants were adult patients who had undergone treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and whose tumors continued to grow. During the trial, AT-101 was administered daily, in pill form, for three of four weeks; it halted the cancer’s progression in many of the 56 patients, Fiveash said.

“With this drug some of these patients went many months without any new growth in their tumors,” Fiveash said.

Fiveash described AT-101 as “a well-tolerated oral medication” and considers that “a major benefit.”  He expects the drug likely would work best combined with radiation and chemotherapy to boost the cancer-fighting properties of those treatments.

Fiveash was to present his initial results May 30 during the poster discussion of central nervous system tumors at the American Society for Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.