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Drug developed for rare disease may help millions more as treatment for cancer, autoimmune diseases

ANN ARBOR, Mich. An anti-angiogenesis drug developed at the University of Michigan is showing promise in studies of three different disease families, including multiple forms of cancer. The drug, tetrathiomolybdate or TM, essentially wages war against copper, which serves to choke off tumor growth, fibrosis and inflammation.

U-M researcher George Brewer, M.D., who developed the drug, will present his findings to date and report on ongoing basic and clinical TM research at the 226th American Chemical Society national meeting Sept. 10 in New York. Brewer's presentation will be part of a one-day symposium on medicinal inorganic chemistry.

TM began as a treatment for Wilson's disease, a rare genetic disease that causes toxic build-ups of copper. Recent phase III clinical data show TM is more effective than other treatments at reducing the disease's effects. Realizing the key role of copper in angiogenesis, Brewer and colleagues then began exploring treatments for cancer, including breast cancer, kidney cancer and liver cancer. Currently, TM is involved in nine phase II clinical studies related to cancer, with more planned.

But it doesn't end there. Brewer and colleagues are also looking into the effect of TM on inflammatory fibrosis diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis, cirrhosis, cystic fibrosis and psoriasis.

"TM has the potential to be a powerful tool in fighting a wide range of diseases. While it has literally saved the lives of young people with Wilson's disease, Wilson's is a rare disease. If early results in cancer and inflammatory diseases hold their promise through the next phase of trials, there's potential for this to impact a lot of people," says Brewer, Morton S. and Henrietta K. Sellner Emeritus Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Wilson's disease typically strikes young adults in their teens or early 20s. The condition causes copper to accumulate in the body at dangerous levels,
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Contact: Nicole Fawcett
nfawcett@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
10-Sep-2003


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