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New hope in battle against brain tumours

Adapting a successful blood cancer therapy could be the answer to treating notoriously difficult brain tumours, new Melbourne research shows.

The innovative CAR-T therapy redirects the immune system to attack cancer cells but is only effective in treating blood cancers like childhood leukaemia and not solid cancers like brain tumours.

"Our research is teaching us how to make CAR-T cells even more efficient and without the toxic side effects so that we can safely extend the therapy to cover a broader range of cancers," Dr Misty Jenkins said about the study which was published on Tuesday.

Brain cancer sufferers have some of the poorest tumour survival rates and new treatment methods are needed, she added.

"Brain tumours are often resistant to traditional treatments such as chemotherapy and surgically removing tumours can come with a lot of collateral damage," Dr Jenkins said.

But CAR-T therapy needs further modification to be effective.

"Finding an optimum design for CAR-T cell therapy where we can kill tumour cells with limited invasion, inflammation and side effects could significantly improve the treatment of brain cancer," she said.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal and was co-funded by the Victorian government.

© AAP 2018

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