Accidental fungus leads to promising cancer drug
Mon, Jun 30, 2008

Washington - A drug developed using nanotechnology and a fungus that contaminated a lab experiment may be broadly effective against a range of cancers, United States researchers reported on Sunday.

The drug, called lodamin, was improved in one of the last experiments overseen by Dr Judah Folkman, a cancer researcher who died in January. Dr Folkman pioneered the idea of angiogenesis therapy - starving tumours by preventing them from growing blood supplies.

Lodamin is an angiogenesis inhibitor that Dr Folkman's team has been working to perfect for 20 years. Writing in the journal Nature Biotechnology, his colleagues say they developed a formulation that works as a pill, without side-effects.

They have licensed it to SynDevRx, a privately held Cambridge, Massachusetts biotechnology company that has recruited several prominent cancer experts to its board.

Tests in mice showed it worked against a range of tumours, including breast cancer, neuroblastoma, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, brain tumours known as glioblastomas and uterine tumours.

It helped stop so-called primary tumours and also prevented their spread, Dr Ofra Benny of Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School and colleagues reported.

'Using the oral route of administration, it first reaches the liver, making it especially efficient in preventing the development of liver metastasis in mice,' they wrote in their report. 'Liver metastasis is very common in many tumour types and is often associated with a poor prognosis and survival rate,' they added. -- REUTERS


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