Gene-based drugs that strangle the blood supply to neoplastic tissues are producing exciting results for cancer patients.
Although the new drug research is its preliminary stages and information is coming from small, phase II clinical studies, physicians at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meetings are talking about the results.
The first of the drugs, SU 5416, a substance under patent from Pharmacia, has enjoyed success in 25 of 27 patients. The patients, with advanced colon cancer, were projected to live only 9 to 12 months. After 13 months, 25 patients are still alive, planning weddings, roller-blading and enjoying life.
The second substance, a Genentech drug known as anti-VEGF, is exhibiting promise against breast, colon and lung neoplasms. Lung-cancer patients who took high doses of the drug experienced remission periods nearly twice as long as counterparts on conventional chemotherapy.
The third and final of the promising blood supply interrupters, IMC-C225 from Imclone Systems has shown promise among head and neck cancer patients. The drug caused significant shrinkage in the tumors of all 15 patients on whom the drug was tested.
Other pharmaceutical companies are expected to focus on drugs that deprive tumors of their proliferative abilities. This new field of drug research is considered to be relatively new but is purported to contain some of the most promising cancer research in decades.