[MOL] Debbie [02574] Medicine On Line


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[MOL] Debbie



ovel Therapy to Treat Lung Cancer Patients

                           Researchers at UCSF Cancer Center are
recruiting patients
                           with advanced lung cancer for a primarily
phase II clinical trial
                           of a novel drug they hope will inhibit the
growth of blood
                           vessels that nourish tumor cells.

                           The drug, rhuMAb VEGF, developed by
Genentech, Inc.,
                           belongs to a class of drugs known as
anti-angiogenesis
                           therapies. These drugs can block the growth
of blood vessels
                           in and around tumor cells, in effect starving
the tumor by cutting
                           off its supply of nutrients and oxygen.

                           Many cells produce a substance called VEGF
(vascular
                           endothelial cell growth) to help stimulate
the growth and
                           migration of blood vessels that supply
nutrients to cells in a
                           beneficial way, for example, during wound
healing. But many
                           types of human cancer cells also produce
VEGF, and they
                           produce higher than normal levels. RhuMAb
VEGF, the
                           antibody to VEGF, binds up the free
circulating factor so that it
                           cannot interact with its receptor on the
endothelial cell.

                           During the clinical trial of the anti-VEGF
antibody, UCSF
                           cancer specialists will determine whether or
not the therapy
                           may enhance the ability of standard
chemotherapy to shrink a
                           tumor. There are no data to date that this
agent shrinks tumors;
                           however, it is a possibility that, with long
term-treatment, a
                           tumor may shrink.

                           "We are excited about finally bringing new
approaches like
                           anti-angiogenesis therapies that make sense
intellectually from
                           the laboratory to the clinic," says David
Jablons, MD, UCSF
                           assistant professor of surgery and principal
investigator of the
                           study. "In this approach, rather than
targeting the malfunctioning
                           genome of cancer cells, we are targeting
normal cells with
                           stable genomes around the tumor that respond
better than
                           cancer cells to growth signals like the
anti-VEGF therapy."

                           Although modest improvements have been made
in the
                           treatment of patients with non-small cell
lung cancer (NSCLC),
                           which accounts for approximately 70 percent
of all lung
                           cancers, the overall mortality rate for lung
cancer patients
                           remains unacceptably high, Jablons says.
Because the
                           prognosis for patients with advanced NSCLC
remains poor,
                           the development of new treatments for the
disease is very
                           important.

                           Patients who are interested in participating
in the trial should
                           contact UCSF Cancer Center trial coordinator
Greg David at
                           (415) 885-7283.

                                        This page posted 8.12.98


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