Hope builds for one drug to kill many cancer types

  • Article by: GINA KOLATA , New York Times
  • Updated: December 23, 2012 - 12:32 AM

The drugs, about to be tested, usher in a new age by targeting gene.

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jpickenDec. 22, 12 8:29 PM

Interesting story, but it seemed to end right in the middle.

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shellymfDec. 22, 1210:23 PM

The Strib cut off the end of the article. Here is the rest of it, as it appears in the NYTimes: Health authorities in the United States and Europe worried that the medicines might have unexpected effects. “Drugs of this type had never been given to a human being,” Dr. Gwen Nichols of Roche said. The studies looked only at safety, but Dr. Nichols said there were encouraging hints that the drugs might be working. In biopsies and scans, cancer cells appeared to be dying. Rigorous efficacy studies are next. If they are successful, they will be followed by clinical trials across cancer types. More recently, Merck began its study to find a safe dose. It is enrolling only patients with acute myelogenous leukemia, a cancer in which p53 is almost always disabled by the blocking protein MDM2. Once the company finds the best dose, it plans to give its drug to just 15 to 30 patients and look for efficacy. And if the drug fails to break apart the two huge proteins and enable the angel of death to do its job? “Then we will not bring the drug forward,” Dr. Gilliland said. Sanofi is in much the same position. It just started its safety tests in Europe. Medical centers in the United States will be added next year. Like Merck, it will focus solely on patients who are most likely to respond to its own drug — in this case, patients with liposarcoma like Mr. Bellino. Their tumors can be as big as a watermelon, says Dr. Andrew J. Wagner, an expert at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and one of Mr. Bellino’s doctors. They often start at the back of a patient’s belly, where they go unnoticed unless the person is very thin. “There is a lot of space back there,” Dr. Wagner explained. Surgeons try to remove the tumors, but they usually grow back and spread. Liposarcoma is so rare — only about 2,000 or so cases each year — that no drugs have ever been specifically tested on patients with this type of cancer. Mr. Bellino said over the summer that he hoped he could be among the first to try it. When the call goes out for study subjects, he said, “I will be waving my hands.” But the test will come too late for him. He died from his cancer on Nov. 13.

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whatzitDec. 23, 1212:48 AM

these researchers are true modern day heroes, battling an intractable and crafty foe, with perseverance , hard grinding work that most often leads to another failure sometimes for decades and in wuite a lot of cases the really revolutionary ones are ridiculed by their peers before they are proven to be right.

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savagemanDec. 23, 12 8:01 AM

These researchers work for BIG PHARMACEUTICAL companies. You know the same ones being targeted for charging to much for drugs by Obama and the left. I wonder what will happen in the future to drugs that take $millions/billions$ to develop and years of losing money???

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west336Dec. 23, 12 8:24 AM

...and it'll be so expensive nobody can actually afford to buy it, just like the cure for AIDS.

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lancebDec. 23, 12 9:26 AM

There is a company named Cellceutix that has developed a drug, now in trial at Harvard's Dana Farber and Deaconess Beth Israel medical centers, whose story takes up where this article leaves off. The drug is called Kevetrin. It works activating P53 in patients whose genetic disposition prevents P53 expression. However, it also mediates MDM2, and all important aspect of success in P53 activation. The trials have recently moved to an escalated dosage after showing no limiting toxicity. I don't know whether Ms Kolata was aware of this trial, or if she chose not to include it in her article for some reason. I believe it is the most promising P53 trial thus far and could, very well, lead to a breakthrough treatment of cancer. Much more comprehensive info on Kevetrin is on their website. Let's hope that we are on the verge of a huge breakthrough against cancer.

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bovys4Dec. 23, 1210:21 AM

Also check the phase 2 results on a drug called Imetelstat for treating certain cancers.The company's name Geron and I believe the Mayo might be involved in the studies.

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karincaDec. 23, 1212:17 PM

Cellceutix (CTIX.OB) has an ongoing trial on humans at Harvard's Dana Farber that is seeking to establish safety with efficacy as a secondary objective. See trial info at FDA site: Clinical trials: http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/nct01664000?term=kevetrin+rank=1 The first cohort of patients have completed the first cycle without any toxic side effects. The safety committee has approved continuation of treatment for the first cohort and the 2nd cohort started this week at double the dose. The company has a pipeline of 8 drugs and will most likely ended up being bought out by the likes of a Pfizer, Roche, or Merck. Time will tell. But, I'm sure the big boys are watching this research on kevetrin very closely. Read about kevetrin. It's very enlightening along with being full of promise. http://cellceutix.com/kevetrin/ Kevetrin has demonstrated the potential for a major breakthrough in cancer research by inducing activation of p53. p53, often referred to as the “Guardian Angel Gene” or the “Guardian Angel of the Human Genome” due to its crucial role in controlling cell mutations, is a tumor suppressor protein that is encoded by the TP53 gene in humans and has been widely regarded as possibly holding a key to the future of cancer therapies. p53 has been shown to play critical roles in the homeostatic health of the human body by activating proteins required to repair DNA and plays a major role in the life cycle of cells by inducing cell cycle arrest and apoptosis to maintain cellular and genetic stability. Kevetrin works on both the mutated and wild type p53. The competition seems to only work on the wild form. Kevetrin will end up working on many more cancers since it works on the mutated form. Watch Cellceutix Closely For Potential Catalysts In 2013 http://seekingalpha.com/article/1054991-watch-cellceutix-closely-for-potential-catalysts-in-2013

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aroundthebenDec. 23, 12 1:27 PM

The many articles that appear on new cancer drugs are encouraging, but I would like to see more media attention given to the new, equalling-encouraging findings about the ways we could prevent cancer. To give more attention to curative drugs than to practical prevention tips plays into the tendency in our society to look for solutions in pills rather than in taking better care of ourselves. Also, the amount of money spent on prevention pales in comparison with the huge sums that are continually devoted to discovering more advanced drugs.

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