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Promising Ovarian Cancer Drug Under Study

A6 shuts down blood supply tumors need to grow

SUNDAY, March 27, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- More than two dozen centers across the United States are enrolling about 60 ovarian cancer patients who are in remission to test whether an investigational drug called A6 can prevent disease recurrence.

The drug is designed to prevent development of new blood vessels that are essential to cancer growth. Study participants will give themselves daily injections of A6 for four weeks, followed by seven days without taking the drug. The cycle can be repeated 11 times if the cancer remains in remission and if there are no major side effects caused by the drug, researchers said.

"For a tumor to grow and spread, it needs blood supply," Dr. Sharad Ghamande, a gynecologic oncologist at the Medical College of Georgia and a principal investigator on the study, said in a prepared statement.

This blood supply arises spontaneously, Ghamande explained, and "the cancer produces cytokines (growth factors) that stimulate growth of vessel buds around it in a process called angiogenesis. This particular medication targets receptors on new budding blood vessels in an attempt to down-regulate them and prevent growth. If that process is shut down, the tumor should not grow or spread."

In animal studies, A6 was shown to inhibit cancer spread. The drug also showed encouraging responses in Phase I clinical trials involving patients with advanced ovarian cancer, the researchers said.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about ovarian cancer.

SOURCE: Medical College of Georgia, news release, March 2005
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