A non-metastatic brain tumor, also called meningioma, often recurs after surgery and radiotherapy. Patients with this type of tumor run out of treatment options. There are no drugs for these aggressive brain tumors.

However, scientists at Northwestern Medicine, Chicago, the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Hong Kong have identified a drug that inhibits the growth of the most aggressive brain tumors, according to Medical Xpress.

They also found how to accurately identify which meningiomas will respond to the drug.

The drug, called abemaciclib, is a newer cancer treatment. Using mouse models, the researchers demonstrated the efficacy of the drug in a 3D living tissue brain tumor (organoids) and cell cultures.

Lead author Dr. Stephen Magill said, “Our study identifies which patients we should treat with this drug because their tumor will likely respond to it. We now have the potential to give them options and hope for a longer, symptom-free life.”

Meningiomas are the most common non-metastatic tumors in the central nervous system. In the United States, about 31,000 people are diagnosed with meningioma every year. The signs and symptoms of meningiomas include headaches, seizures, or neurological deficits such as weakness, vision loss, double vision, or sensory changes.

Abemaciclib is a cell cycle inhibitor, which means it blocks the cell division cycle and inhibits tumor growth.

Dr. Magill explained, “Eventually we hope to tailor medical therapy to the genetic changes within each individual person’s meningioma. We can find a weakness in that tumor, put a stick in the spokes and stop it from growing.”

The study, published in Nature Genetics, used DNA methylation profiling and RNA sequencing on 565 meningiomas, which enabled investigators to see what genes are expressed by the tumor and the level of expression, revealing a signature of the DNA, according to Medical Xpress.

Dr. Magill said, “By doing that we found three separate groups of meningiomas based off their biology. For each group, we found a different biological mechanism promoting the tumors’ growth, with each group having a different clinical outcome.”

“These groups are different than the previous grading system and “are more accurate at predicting the clinical behavior of the tumor,” he added. “We wondered if by inhibiting that pathway we could stop the tumors from growing. We tested that in multiple ways and found it was true in patients, mouse models and cell cultures.”