Drug Stops Cancer in Its Tracks

Experimental compound fights tumors three ways, researchers say

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MONDAY, March 14, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- An experimental drug that stops cancer cell division and triggers tumor death has been developed by researchers at Temple University.

The drug, called ON01910, interferes with the activity of a gene called Plk1, which plays an important role in cancer spread. Previous research found that Plk1 is present at higher levels in tumors and in cancer patients with poor survival rates. That work also discovered that when Plk1 is blocked cancer cells can't divide and tumors die.

The Temple team tested ON01910 on 94 different human cancers.

"We found that ON01910 was a potent inhibitor of human tumor growth and also worked well with several existing cancer drugs, often inducing complete regression of tumors. Someday it might work either as a single drug or in combination with other drugs," research leader Prem Reddy, a professor of biochemistry and director of the Fels Institute for Cancer Research at Temple, said in a prepared statement.

"Our drug stops tumor cells from reaching normal cells three ways. First, it blocks invasion, next it blocks angiogenesis [the growth of surrounding blood vessels] and finally, it induces tumor cell death," Reddy said.

The study appears in the March issue of Cancer Cell.

Currently, ON01910 is being assessed in a Phase I clinical trial involving up to 56 people with advanced and metastatic cancers.

More information

The American Cancer Society offers a guide to cancer drugs.

SOURCE: Temple University, news release, March 14, 2005

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