Unfortunately, the prognosis associated with glioblastoma is poor; some studies suggest that survival rates are 40% within one year of diagnosis and 17% within two years, with less than 7% of people surviving five or more years. In part, this is due to the fact that glioblastoma can be difficult-to-treat. The tumors are capable of making their own blood supply, which helps them grow or recur. But according to Medical XPress, new research suggests that cooling glioblastoma tumors to room temperature using a process called cytostatic hypothermia could improve and extend overall survival rates.
Cytostatic hypothermia is not a new concept. First attempted in the 1940s, freezing or cooling brain tumors also harmed healthy tissue, making it an unsafe and ineffective option. However, the safer and more effective cytostatic hypothermia of today’s world showed promise in murine models of glioblastoma – without damaging healthy brain tissue.
Within the preclinical study, shared in Science Advances, researchers developed cytostatic hypothermia devices before implanting them into the brains of rats with glioblastoma. When the devices were turned on, cooling the tumors, the rats lived over 2x longer than their counterparts whose devices were not turned on. Some rats even reached cytostasis, or the point where the tumors stopped growing. Cytostasis was achieved when the tumor reached 68-77 degrees Fahrenheit.
While these results are promising, more research is needed to determine whether these results can be replicated in other situations.
What is Glioblastoma?
Glioblastoma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer which forms from astrocytes (star-shaped cells) in the brain or spinal cord. Although it is rare, it is also the most common type of adult malignant brain tumor. Men are more likely to develop glioblastoma than women. Additional risk factors include prior radiation therapy and pre-existing genetic disorders. Symptoms and characteristics can (but do not always) include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Double or blurred vision
- Gradual speech difficulty
- Problems with thinking or speaking
- Muscle weakness or paralysis
- Persistent headaches
- Changes in mood, behavior, and personality