Dear friends, While I have been away for some time, I have never left the spirit of mol-cancer and keep you all in my prayers. I thought you may be interested in the piece in the NY Times today. When you read the full text, you begin to see how research works and begin to temper what you read in the news and to discount much of the 30 second news bites that we are all bombarded with. There is clearly no miracle cure for this monster yet hope that progress will continue in developing means to limit and treat those of us bearing this journey. I hope to be able to return soon...though I am terrified of the volume of mail being generated daily. It seems too much like a full time job to keep up and support those new people looking for help. I am sure that my dear Auntie Lil, sister Carla, and brother Marty are all in there plugging away. My Love and prayers are with you. JohnTitle: Company Is Stopping Its Work on a Prominent Cancer Drug
February 10, 1999
Company Is Stopping Its Work on a Prominent Cancer Drug
By DAVID J. MORROW
he Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, a leading maker of anti-cancer drugs, said Tuesday that it was halting its work on angiostatin, one of two anti-cancer compounds that had excited intense interest in the last year or so.
Company officials hesitated to provide details for the decision. But Robert A. Kramer, vice president for oncology drug discovery, said in a statement: "At this time, angiostatin protein in its present form does not meet our criteria for molecules that advance to clinical trials. We have chosen to direct our resources to other programs in our broad oncology pipeline."
In an interview later, Kramer said the company's main concern was not the compound's effectiveness, but rather whether it could be manufactured in large enough amounts in sufficient strength to sustain tests in people.
In a news release issued by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Entremed, the small biomedical company in Rockville, Md., that has been its partner in the work, the two companies said the development agreement between them was being modified.
While Entremed will continue to develop angiostatin, the statement said, Bristol-Myers Squibb will retain the option to reassume development and marketing rights of the protein once "clinical proof of principal has been demonstrated."
Entremed first captured national attention last May when a front-page article in The New York Times reported enthusiasm among scientists that angiostatin and endostatin, another compound being tested by the company, made tumors disappear in mice.
Since then, there have been reports that scientists have had difficulty working with the compounds, whose use as cancer treatments was initially investigated by Dr. Judah Folkman, a researcher at Harvard University.
The reports have frustrated John Holaday, Entremed's chief executive, who called the media attention surrounding Tuesday's announcement a non-event. Holaday emphasized that Bristol-Myers Squibb would still consult during the development of angiostatin and that the two companies' agreement was anything but ended.
"In developing this drug, we have come under a tremendous spotlight," Holaday said. "We had planned to quietly develop the drugs with haste to get them to cancer patients. But we were catapulted into the spotlight with that New York Times article. Now everything we do gets news whether its newsworthy or not."
The article turned angiostatin into one of the year's hottest drugs even though it had yet to be tested on humans and was years away from being released. Entremed's stock jumped $39.75, to $51.81, with the trading volume at a level above the number of shares outstanding.
But the article reported excitement among scientists about earlier findings, not about new results. As Holaday noted Tuesday, there had been no new developments regarding the compounds for several months.
As planned, Entremed said Tuesday, it should begin angiostatin's clinical trials on humans this year. Until those trials are under way, no one will know how successful angiostatin can be.
Official at Bristol-Myers Squibb also emphasized that the company's decision to have Entremed develop angiostatin had nothing to do with the drug's effectiveness or doubts the company had on whether it could be safety used in humans.
"We have confidence in the principle of angiostatin," said Kramer, the company vice president. "We are confident that the angiostatin molecule can reduce tumors in mice. You just have to understand that angiostatin has to be one of the most complex compounds ever to be developed for man."
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