New cancer drugs available.The latest news from the cancer front--two new drugs, angiostatin an·gi·o·stat·in
A naturally occurring protein that is a specific inhibitor of endothelial proliferation and a potent angiogenesis inhibitor. It is under investigation as a potential cancer therapy. and endostatin en·do·stat·in
A potent, naturally occurring antiangiogenic protein that inhibits the formation of the blood vessels that feed tumors and is under investigation as a potential cancer therapy. , are seemingly able to cure virtually all cancerous tumors in mice.
More than 30 years ago, a young Harvard Medical School Harvard Medical School (HMS) is one of the graduate schools of Harvard University. It is a prestigious American medical school located in the Longwood Medical Area of the Mission Hill neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. graduate, Dr. Judah Folkman, became obsessed ob·sess
v. ob·sessed, ob·sess·ing, ob·sess·es
To preoccupy the mind of excessively.
v.intr. with the idea that if a person could keep cancers from developing his or her own blood supply, the cancer would not be able to grow. Meanwhile, Dr. Folkman finished his surgical training and became chief of surgery at Children's Hospital in Boston.
Then came the first major breakthrough ten years ago, when he and his research associates discovered a class of drugs that could do just what he had imagined--prevent tumors from developing new blood vessels. The process of developing new blood vessels is called angiogenesis angiogenesis /an·gio·gen·e·sis/ (-jen´e-sis) vasculogenesis; development of blood vessels either in the embryo or in the form of neovascularization or revascularization.
n. , so these new substances became known as anti-angiogenesis drugs. When given together, they have shrunk even the largest tumors in mice, equivalent to a two-pound growth in humans, to minuscule size. And they have done so without observable side effects or the development of resistance to the drugs.
No one can be sure that they will do the same thing in humans. However, the drugs have so impressed the National Cancer Institute (NCI See Liberate. ) that it has made them its top priority. NCI Director Dr. Richard Klausner calls antiangiogenesis drugs "the single most exciting thing on the horizon" for the treatment of cancer.
Dozens of companies are developing anti-angiogenesis drugs, and researchers hope that clinical trials in patients can begin by the end of the year. If they produce similar results in humans, this will indeed be the cancer breakthrough that everyone is hoping for. But even Dr. Folkman is cautious about making predictions. All he knows for sure, he says, is that "if you have cancer and you are a mouse, we can take good care of you."