Researchers at the University of Minnesota have developed novel anti-cancer drugs to treat solid tumors. These "small molecules" belong to a class of pharmaceutical agents called anti-angiogenics. The new compounds are a refined form of drugs that effectively reduce blood flow to the tumor, thereby inhibiting tumor growth. The results of the study appear in the July 5 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
"This is a novel class of drugs that increases the potential for good, effective treatment for cancer patients with tumors," said Kevin Mayo, Ph.D., principle investigator and professor of biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics at the University of Minnesota Medical School.
There is currently a protein anti-angiogenic agent approved by the FDA for clinical use. These new tumor-targeting compounds were designed to mimic the functional part of an anti-angiogenic protein. But, because the compounds are not proteins themselves, they have the advantage of possibly being taken in pill form and being less costly to produce.
In animal studies with mice, the compounds inhibited tumor growth by up to 80 percent, and in combination with chemotherapy tumors essentially disappeared. Although the compounds proved effective against solid tumors, researchers believe they have potential to treat liquid tumors as well, such as the type found in leukemia and other blood cancers.
"Our next step is to treat people with the drug in FDA-approved clinical trials," said Mayo.
The research was done in collaboration with the University of Minnesota Departments of Biochemistry, and Chemistry, and the University of Minnesota Cancer Center. The research was funded by the National Cancer Institute.
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