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Interstitial chemotherapy with biodegradable BCNU (Gliadel®) wafers in the treatment of malignant gliomas

Authors Daniela A Bota, Annick Desjardins, Jennifer A Quinn, Mary L Affronti, Henry S Friedman

Published 15 November 2007 Volume 2007:3(5) Pages 707—715

Daniela A Bota, Annick Desjardins, Jennifer A Quinn, Mary L Affronti, Henry S Friedman

The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA

Abstract: Malignant gliomas represent the majority of primary brain tumors, and the prognosis of the patients afflicted with these tumors has been historically dismal, with almost uniform progressive neurologic impairment and rapid death. Even with multimodal treatment using surgery, focal radiation, and chemotherapy, no major strides were made until recently. The development of interstitial BCNU wafers (carmustine wafers, Gliadel®) has led to promising results in the treatment of a selected patients with malignant gliomas, as well as with other intracranial malignancies. BCNU is one of the first systemic chemotherapies which had obtained United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the treatment of brain tumors. However, systemic use has been hampered by the modest prolongation of survival and by the prolonged myelosuppression and potentially fatal pulmonary toxicity. The development of interstitial therapies with BCNU represented a great step forward, allowing direct delivery to the tumor bed, with virtually no systemic toxicities. Clinical studies of BCNU wafers have showed good efficacy in both newly diagnosed and recurrent gliomas, as well as a possible therapeutic role in other primary or secondary intracranial malignancies. New studies are currently underway trying to improve the efficacy of the BCNU wafers (Gliadel®) by combining them with different systemic chemotherapies. An overview of the current knowledge ranging from the preclinical developments, to the efficacy and safety seen in the clinical trials and in clinical practice following the drug approval to the future avenues of research is therefore timely.

Keywords: BCNU, interstitial therapy, Gliadel® wafers, malignant gliomas

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