L-methylfolate Changes Glioblastoma DNA Process

What if researchers could change DNA processes within brain tumors to improve overall survival rates and patient outcomes? According to Medical XPress, researchers found that L-methylfolate, in conjunction with the current standards of care, could do so for those with glioblastoma. Within a Phase 1 clinical trial, researchers administered L-methylfolate, along with other treatments, to patients with glioblastoma. Through altering or reprogramming the DNA methylome, researchers found that treated patients saw increased overall survival compared to untreated patients. 

If you’d like to learn more, the full study results are published in Cancer Research Communications

About L-methylfolate

To begin, let’s learn a little more about L-methylfolate. According to the Psychiatric Times:

In humans, folate (ie, Vitamin B9) is one of 13 essential vitamins. L-methylfolate is the only form of folate that can cross the blood-brain barrier, where it plays an essential role in the one carbon cycle metabolic pathway that is required for the production of the monoamines serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.

Within this particular study, researchers sought to understand if they could reprogram the DNA methylome, causing tumor re-methylation. Through this process, researchers wondered if re-methylation would halt any cancer-related genes and benefit patients. Altogether, 14 patients enrolled. Findings included:

  • The overall median survival rate for glioblastoma is 8.6 months. Of the 14 treated patients, the median survival was 9.5 months. This means that L-methylfolate helped improve overall survival by almost one full year. 
  • At least six patients eventually passed away and donated their brains for further study. Researchers found a significant difference between initial tumor samples and tumor samples at death. 
  • One treated patient is still alive today, highlighting the potential durability of L-methylfolate treatment in conjunction with other immunotherapy or chemotherapy treatments. 
  • Overall, the treatment was relatively safe and well-tolerated. It was also able to cross the blood-brain barrier and change the tumor epigenetic landscape, increasing treatment efficacy. 

Because only 14 patients participated in the trial, researchers cannot make any distinct claims about the relationship between L-methylfolate and overall survival. However, the researchers hope to continue their research in the future with larger participant cohorts. 


Glioblastoma is a rare cancer and a subtype of astrocytoma, which forms in star-shaped astrocyte cells in the brain. Doctors are not sure exactly what causes glioblastoma. However, genetic factors and prior radiation exposure may play a role. Approximately 20% of all brain tumors are considered to be glioblastoma. Typically, glioblastoma formation occurs more in males than in females. These tumors are highly malignant, particularly due to their ability to make their own blood supply. Glioblastoma symptoms include brain pressure, difficulty thinking or speaking, nausea and vomiting, frequent or persistent headaches, blurred or double vision, and seizures. Learn more about glioblastoma.

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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