A new drug that could help cancer patients by stimulating their immune system is being tested by Mayo Clinic in conjunction with the Translational Genomic Research Institute (TGen) and Scottsdale Healthcare.
Clinical trials are being conducted at Mayo and Scottsdale Healthcare to study the drug, VTX-2337, which is a new, novel, small molecule aimed at activating immune cells in the blood and lymph nodes surrounding a tumor.
The Phase 1 trial, a year-long test in humans, will focus on the drug’s safety. If successful, Phase 2 will test the drug’s effectiveness in treating tumors.
Cancer — and its treatment — can weaken the body’s immune system by affecting the blood cells that protect humans against disease and germs, according to the American Cancer Society. The body then has a difficult time fighting infection. The hope is that the new drug will prompt a cancer patient’s immune system to slow down the growth of tumors — or even shrink them.
It is believed that the drug will work by tricking the body’s immune system into attacking the cancer, which is what the immune system typically does when attacking a bacterial infection.
According to Peter Cohen, M.D., Mayo Clinic researcher in Hematology/Oncology, the drug mimics a bacterial signal that basically alerts the body about a potentially life-threatening event, such as infection. Immunotherapy, notes Dr. Cohen, has long been studied as a strategy to fight cancer.
Researchers are hopeful that this new molecule may play an important role in humans and have broad application in the treatment of cancer.
Release Date: December 24, 2008
Source: Mayo Clinic
Filed Under: Drug Discovery