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New Medicines Possible for Craniopharyngioma–and It’s a Good Thing

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“Yuck, yuck, yuck”

Lots of kids don’t like taking medicine. The general feeling seems to be “yuck, yuck, yuck.”

But doctors and parents know that medicine can be a good thing. And it could make a huge difference for kids with a tumor called Adamantinomatous Craniopharyngioma, or ACP.

A new paper lays out the groundwork for developing medication to treat ACP. Dr. Richard Anderson of our Pediatric Neurosurgery Center is one of the paper’s authors. (Full list of authors below.)

The researchers wanted to find out if it would be possible to develop medications that could fight ACP without affecting normal brain cells. If such medications could be developed, they could potentially eliminate the need for surgery.

Right now, surgery is the main treatment for ACP. Removing the ACP tumor and treating the area with radiation can usually save a patient’s life. But unfortunately, that treatment can also worsen the problems caused by the tumor. These problems include trouble with vision, hormones, and the nervous system.

These problems are especially hard on the system of a growing child. Both the craniopharyngioma and its treatment can cause lifelong trouble.

But if a drug could target ACP very specifically, while keeping side effects to a minimum, it could become the new treatment method of choice. “Yuck yuck yuck” or no, this would be incredible news. Children could potentially survive ACP without any additional side effects from its surgery.

Dr. Todd Hankinson, a former resident in this department, designed and led this study to lay the foundation for such medication. He set out to find which genes are overexpressed in ACP in comparison to other brain tumors and normal brain tissue. A medication that targets those pathways could disable the tumor while leaving normal brain tissue undisturbed.

Dr. Anderson, author on new craniopharyngioma paper
Pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Richard Anderson

The study needed many different ACP samples in order to find out which genes are common across all ACPs. Our Dr. Anderson joined two other doctors—one in Arizona and one in Colorado—to provide Dr. Hankinson with the ACP samples for the study.

The results of the research are promising. The study identified several possible targets for drug development, laying the groundwork for a whole new treatment approach for ACP.

Dr. Anderson and the other authors hope that researchers will use this information to work together and develop the drugs that could one day make ACP surgery a thing of the past. Kids, parents, and doctors agree–that could be a good thing.

Learn more about Dr. Anderson on his bio page here.

FULL LIST OF AUTHORS: Jacob M. Gump, Andrew M. Donson, Diane K. Birks, Vladimir M. Amani, Karun K. Rao, Andrea M. Griesinger, B. K. Kleinschmidt-DeMasters, James M. Johnston, Richard C. E. Anderson, Amy Rosenfeld, Michael Handler, Lia Gore, Nicholas Foreman and Todd C. Hankinson

Image credit: [Tony Alter] / Flickr

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