(HealthDay News) — For patients with glioblastoma, treatment with the anti-cytomegalovirus (CMV) agent valganciclovir is associated with improved survival, according to a study published in the Sept. 5 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Cecilia Söderberg-Nauclér, M.D., Ph.D., from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and colleagues examined more than 250 cases of glioblastoma for CMV expression, and investigated the role of anti-CMV treatment in two trials involving 42 and 50 patients with glioblastoma.

The researchers found that only one case of the 250 glioblastomas was negative for CMV. Among 75 patients, the median survival was significantly longer for those with low-grade versus high-grade CMV infection (33 versus 13 months), and two-year survival was 63.6 and 17.2 percent, respectively. In a double-blind randomized trial of valganciclovir involving 42 patients with glioblastoma, tumor growth was not significantly reduced at three and six months after surgery, but the rate of two-year survival was increased for those receiving at least six months of antiviral therapy versus contemporary controls (50 versus 20.6 percent). In an additional study involving 50 patients with glioblastoma, the rate of two-year survival was 62 percent for valganciclovir-treated patients, compared with 18 percent for contemporary controls.

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“Our results highlight the need for a randomized trial targeting CMV in patients with glioblastomas,” the authors write.

The study was partially funded by Hoffmann-La Roche.

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