Scientists are getting more creative in finding ways to treat cancer cells without destroying surrounding tissue. A Chicago-based company NEOPHARM is working on a protein with one part that targets tumors (IL13) and the other that kills the cancer cell (PE38). Here’s how it works:
The two-part recombinant protein is CINTREDEKIN BESUDOTOX (IL13-PE38QQR). Malignant glioma cells carry IL13 receptors , but healthy brain cells almost never do. The protein is designed to bind to IL13 receptors on the tumor like a key fits in a lock. The cancer cell latches onto and absorbs the IL13 and the attached PE38. As a result, the cancer cell dies. Healthy brain cells are expected to be unharmed because they do not have the IL13 receptors, and thus do not ingest the PE38.
This drug has already been in a Phase 3 clinical trial. And the best part is the FDA is so excited about this work that it has designated it an Orphan Drug (meaning it won’t require prescription drug user fees) both in Europe and the US. They’ve also included it in their new Continuous Marketing Application pilot program–and THAT means the FDA is all over helping develop the drug. Congratulations to NEOPHARM investigators.
I’ve heard some horror stories about how the FDA has been known to stand in the way of certain developments. So it’s nice to see them out there finding ways to get good stuff released.