Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Cancer Drug Tested

Physicians in Great Britain and the U.S. are conducting an initial trial on a new drug that could help mesothelioma patients. The trial involves a drug called LDE 225 manufactured by Novartis Pharmaceuticals. One of the locations where the drug trial is being conducted is the Leicester Royal Infirmary in Leicester, England.

Dr. Anne Thomas, a consultant oncologist at Leicester’s hospitals, told the Leicester Mercury newspaper that the new drug works by targeting cancer cells by inhibiting proteins that cancer cell rely on to grow and divide. About 40 patients will be recruited for the first round of testing on humans.

One of the recruits, Bernard Dean, 61 of Derbyshire, told the newspaper that he hoped the eight tablet a day he is taking will halt the growth of three tumors in his lungs. A father of two and a joiner by trade, Dean was diagnosed with mesothelioma a year ago from breathing asbestos. He was diagnosed after going to the doctor with what he thought was a bad cold.

Dean had to stop chemotherapy after four sessions because it was making him too ill and doctors in Nottingham said they could not operate on the tumors.

“ I know it’s the first time the drug has been used outside the laboratory, but I knew I couldn’t let the opportunity go,” Dean said. “If it buys me a few more months or a few more years, it has to be worth it.

Other locations where mesothelioma patients are being recruited for the drug trial are the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the Cancer Therapy and Research Center in San Antonio, Texas and the Novartis Investigative Site in Planta Baja, Spain.

If all goes well with the phase I trial for LDE 225, there will be two more rounds of testing with larger groups of patients. Dr. Thomas said it would be at least five years before the drug is widely available.

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