Categories: Health & Fitness

Cancer: In a small clinical trial, a drug extended the lives of terminally ill patients

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Potentially major new advance in cancer treatment. Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and the company APIM Therapeutics report that they have developed an anticancer drug called ATX-101, which targets only cancer cells and is believed to be effective against many types of cancer.

In a study published in the journal Oncogene (Source 1), they report the results of a clinical trial conducted with 20 terminally ill cancer patients.

The drug in question works by destroying the ability of cancer cells to cope with stress, which leads to their death, while healthy cells survive. It required no less than 18 years of research and some 20 million euros, report the researchers in a press release (Source 2).

This clinical trial, which was held in Australia, was offered to people in the terminal phase in whom conventional treatments have failed. At the end of the test, 70% of patients saw their cancer stabilizein other words stop progressing, after six weeks of treatment. 12 of them continued the treatment for 18 weeks, and saw their cancer stabilize accordingly. A woman chose to take the drug for 17 months, and saw her cancer stabilize for more than two years.

This small clinical trial, originally designed to test the safety of the drug, not only confirmed that it was not toxic to humans, but also showed its performance in humans, after conclusive tests on animal models.

A different approach to chemotherapy, but also complementary

If chemotherapy induces stress in cancerous cells, and leads to their death, it also affects healthy cells, hence significant adverse effects. “ Chemotherapy affects all cells including normal cells like in hair follicles and therefore affects the whole body with many side effects like hair loss commented Marit Otterlei, professor of molecular medicine and co-author of the study. “ ATX-101 can be used as the only treatment. It can stabilize cancer, as recently published studies show, but the drug can also help chemotherapy work even better so you don’t have to get as much. “, she added.

The drug will continue its journey until possible marketing: phase 2 trials are underway to establish its effectiveness on a larger number of volunteers. It will be tested in the United States, on patients with sarcomabut also in Australia, on patients with ovarian cancer. Both of these trials are being conducted in combination with more conventional chemotherapy treatment.

However, Marit Otterlei tempers: “ Many drugs can work, but fail [toujours] at the end of the development process. The pharmaceutical industry does not undertake any project that it cannot profit from. What we develop should work slightly better than current treatments, and preferably be cheaper to produce and have fewer side effects. Only then can expensive development be a winner”. And the researcher concludes that he “ stay still a long way to go ».

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