Scientists have developed a drug which seeks out and destroys cancerous tumours in mice without any side effects, with hopes that it will soon be ready for clinical trials on humans.
Californian researchers focused on a compound called IF7, a small protein that seeks out the blood vessels that tumours need to grow and spread about the body.
They attached IF7 to a fluorescent probe and injected it into mice with bowel tumours. Within minutes, the tumours lit up. Next, they coupled IF7 with SN-38, a potent anti-cancer drug. They measured the tumours after daily injections with IF7/SN-38.
The results were dramatic, with many treated tumours disappearing completely within a fortnight, even at low doses. The researchers said that IF7 targets tumours with ‘unprecedented’ speed.
Mice whose cancer was thought to be terminal was cured.
Dr. Fukuda, professor in Sanford-Burnham's National Cancer Institute (NCI), said: ‘We can cure terminal stage mice with very large tumours without any side effects simply by giving them this drug coupled with IF7."
In addition, the blood tests showed no sign of side effects from the drug combination in treated mice, since it does not cause damage to the surrounding healthy cells.
In standard cancer treatment like chemotherapy, drugs attack anywhere in the body, damaging healthy cells, causing side effects like hair loss and nausea, and increased susceptibility to infection.
Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers believe the technique could be used to combat other cancers, like breast, prostate, skin and lung. Next, they hope to further prepare this technology for clinical trials in humans.
Patients with private medical insurance often have access to new drugs and treatments not available on the NHS once the drug has been approved for clinical use. Some health insurers even cover the cost of experimental treatment. Compare health insurance policies online now to gain peace of mind about your future health.
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