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'Smart Bomb' cancer treatment in the pipeline for patients with health insurance

Published on 13/09/2011

Clinical trials for a new ‘smart bomb’ cancer treatment are ready to begin within the next 18 months and could one day be available to patients with private health insurance.

The treatment is so effective that in the pre-clinical tests on mice, half the mice appeared to be cured of their cancer with no side effects.

Colchicine is derived from the native British Autumn crocus. The flower is already recorded in early herbal guides as a treatment for inflammation, but colchicine is toxic to other tissues in the body, so until now its use has been limited.

Researchers from the Institute for Cancer Therapeutics (ICT) at the University of Bradford have now altered the colchicine molecule so that it is inactive in the body until it reaches the cancerous tumours.

Once it has reached the tumour, the chemical becomes active by a particular enzyme and ‘starves’ the tumour by breaking up the blood vessels supplying it.

The side-effects of traditional cancer therapy, including hair loss, nausea and suppression of the immune system, can be debilitating, and can often contribute to the ultimate cause of death. But since the treatment will only be activated in the tumour, it may be possible to treat cancers effectively with no side effects.

Published in the journal Cancer Research, pre-clinical tests in mice have proven surprisingly successful.

"What we're looking for is a delay in the growth of the tumour," said Professor Patterson.

"But sometimes the treatment is so effective that in half of the studies, the mice appeared to be cured of their cancer. All mice responded to the treatment."

Just one dose of the colchicine produced this effect. If it passes clinical tests, the researchers believe it will be used alongside existing cancer treatments.

The researchers hope that the treatment will enter the initial stage of clinical testing at St James's Hospital in Leeds within the next 18 months.

Private medical cover holders often have access to cutting edge drugs and treatments not available on the NHS. Compare health insurance policies online with ActiveQuote now to make sure you are covered in the future.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2011

Categories:  Medical
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