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March 5, 2008

Scientists Say Anti-Cancer Smart Bomb Ready For Human Use

Topics: Medicine

Applications for nanotechnology in cancer treatment continue to be in the news, and as a two-time survivor of stage-IV cancer - now in my 5th year post treatment, I'm always interested in new hope for patients faced with cancer.

Now comes news of a modified version of a compound - previously considered too toxic for use in gastrointestinal cancer patients in the early 70's - being delivered into patients' bodies using a drug delivery system that doesn't release its load until it gets to the desired site of action. Via the Vancouver Sun, scientists report that patients in British Columbia who fail to respond to standard treatment are soon to be offered a locally developed experimental drug using a nanotechnology smart bomb type of treatment derived from the bark of a somewhat stubby tree called Camptotheca, better known as "happy tree," indigenous only to China and Tibet. The anti-cancer treatment is intended to hit targets with precision, and having already been tested in mice, scientists believe it's now ready for testing in humans.

[...] They are calling their drug Irinophore C; its compounds are originally derived from a somewhat stubby tree called Camptotheca (or happy tree), which was found 40 years ago to have anti-cancer properties that were eventually extracted and synthesized.

While at least one drug company markets a chemotherapy drug called Camptosar, based on the same tree compounds, B.C. Cancer Agency scientists maintain they have discovered a unique way to get a modified version into patients' bodies using a drug delivery system that doesn't release its load until it gets to the desired site of action.

As the scientists discuss in a research journal, their own patented formula fits with the goal of an "ideal drug delivery system [which retains] its therapeutic payload until it reaches the target site whereupon the drug [is] released."

Dawn Waterhouse, director of non-clinical studies and manager of production and manufacturing with the cancer agency's investigational drug program, said in an interview that in mice studies, the Irinophore C drug system was "remarkably better in therapeutic effect and less toxic" when compared to Camptosar.

Continue reading: Anti-cancer smart bomb ready for human use...

While the treatment appears promising, we need to keep in mind that in the investigator's reference to Irinophore C being ready for human use, what they really mean is that the drug appears to be ready to be used in a phase-I trial, and actual use for treatment in humans could be years away. Nonetheless, both the drug and the technology offer potential for another weapon in our battle to make cancer treatment less toxic and more effective.

Related readings:
New nanocarriers for cancer treatment
Nanomedicine System Engineered To Enhance Therapeutic Effects Of Injectable Drugs

Cross posted from New Hope Blog

Posted by Richard at March 5, 2008 3:52 PM

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