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New Class of Anti-Cancer Drugs Offers Promise in Fight Against Mesothelioma and Other Aggressive Cancers

Researchers at the University of Sydney have announced that they are developing a new class of anti-cancer drugs which “control the growth and spread of cancers” with minimal side effects.  The drugs, which the researchers tout as being the next generation of cancer treatment, have the potential to be effective against “highly aggressive” cancers such as pancreatic, and possibly mesothelioma. 

Mesothelioma and pancreatic cancers are both rare, aggressive, incurable cancers with limited treatment options. Both diseases are often not diagnosed until symptoms become apparent and the disease has progressed to an advanced stage.  The ability of the cancer cells to divide and spread is a hallmark of the diseases.  Finding a treatment that halts that growth is critical to increasing the survival of patients and to finding a cure for the cancers. 

The new cancer agents under development are deemed effective by targeting only the cancerous cells and leaving non-cancerous cells untouched.  By not attacking the healthy cells, common side effects, such as vomiting and nausea most often experienced by cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, are “dramatically” reduced. 

According to lead researcher Dr. Zaklina Kovacevic, post-doctoral researcher and NHMRC Early Career Fellow, the anti-cancer agents bind the iron in tumor cells, which prevents the cancer growth, and also increases the levels of the protein NDRG1, which inhibits the spread of the cancer. 

Professor Des Richardson, head of the Iron Metabolism and Chelation Program at the University of Sydney and co-author of the study, has been conducting research in this area since the early 1990s.  He is currently working with an American company to develop the compound to the stage necessary to begin clinical trials. 

“This will present a significant step forward in the fight against cancer and provide cancer sufferers new hope for a better outcome,” Professor Richardson said.

For the 3,000 Americans diagnosed with mesothelioma each year, clinical trials may offer them the best available treatment as well as the opportunity to receive new, potentially more effective therapies against mesothelioma. 

The results of the study were recently published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

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Nancy Meredith is a blog and web content writer with more than 20 years of professional experience in the Information Technology industry. She has been writing about Mesothelioma for 4 years. Follow Nancy on Google+

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