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Drug developed to treat ‘most aggressive’ form of lung cancer
By thinkSPAIN Team Sat, Mar 23, 2019
RESEARCHERS in Barcelona have developed a drug which inhibits the key gene in most types of cancerous tumour and which is very active in generating the most aggressive form of lung cancer.
The team at the Vall d’Hebron Oncology Institute (VHIO) has tested the medication, Omomyc, successfully on mice and are hoping to start the first phase of clinical trials on humans in 2020.
Taken in the form of a nasal spray but also suitable for intravenous administration – via drip or injection - Omomyc is ‘well-tolerated’, reduces the size and severity of tumours and blocks their growth, according to the team.
It is suitable for use in non-microcytic lung cancer, the subtype which is most aggressive and has the highest mortality rate, both in men and women.
Led by Dr Laura Soucek, researcher at the Anti-Tumour Therapy in Mice Modelling Group within the VHIO and co-founder and executive director of Peptomyc, S.L., the team says the key gene in the development of most tumours and specifically in the worst form of lung cancer is known as Myc, but that until now, no gene-inhibitor had been found which worked effectively against it.
Dr Soucek has been developing her idea of creating a Myc-inhibitor for 20 years, and has now helped to develop Omomyc, a transgene which does not cause adverse effects and has now been turned into a pharmaceutical drug suitable for administration.
Her team has managed to produce Omomyc in mini-protein form, and in injecting it into the veins of mice or administering it via the nose, they found it stopped tumour growth – a discovery that could allow the researchers to extend it to treat other types of cancer, including those which have metastasised.
Myc is involved in cell division and multiplication, metabolism and immune system response, whilst its newly-created inhibitor has the potential to attack the cancer cells – firstly by blocking spread and limiting growth, secondly by acting on glucose and fat metabolism which contributes to ‘feeding’ the cancerous cells, and thirdly, by stimulating the immune system to detect and attack them.
The research also combined administering Omomyc jointly with the drug Paclitaxel, the standard treatment for lung cancer, and found it did not create any additional side-effects nor ‘argue’ with Paclitaxel – and the two together achieved a greater reduction in tumour growth than either one individually, prolonging survival in mice.
Additionally, the drug was found to be capable of ‘recruiting’ tumour cells from the immune system within the nucleus of the tumour, opening the door to new lines of research – combining Omomyc with immunotherapy, a new strategic treatment which is starting to show great potential with different types of cancer.
The group is now increasing production and purification of the Omomyc mini-protein at industrial level to be able to treat humans in clinical trials, which it hopes to start next year, according to the author of the report, Marie-Eve Beaulieu, published in the magazine Science Translational Medicine.
Photograph of two of the researchers in their laboratory, taken by the Vall d’Hebron Campus
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