Animal studies indicate new approach for treating end-stage skin and kidney cancers

New Orleans, La., March 26, 2001 Advanced skin and end-stage kidney cancer patients may have a better chance of survival with drugs developed from a new synthetic enzyme that significantly improves the effectiveness of existing interleukin-2 (IL-2) cancer therapy, based on research presented today at the American Association for Cancer Research 92nd Annual Meeting.

In animal studies conducted by researchers at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, UT, and MetaPhore Pharmaceuticals in St. Louis, MO, the synthetic enzyme M40403 showed an ability to reverse the extreme blood-pressure drop that is a common side effect of high-dosage IL-2 cancer therapy. The research also showed that the compound enhances the anti-cancer properties of IL-2 therapy.

IL-2 immunotherapy, which works by activating natural killer (NK) cells that have the ability to recognize and destroy many types of tumors, is an approved treatment for inoperable metastatic melanoma and metastatic renal cell carcinoma. About 80,000 cases of melanoma and renal cell carcinoma are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.

IL-2 use is limited, however, by potentially life threatening side effects, including hypotension, particularly at the high-dosage level indicated for these end-stage cancers. A majority of patients undergoing high-dosage IL-2 treatment currently either require intensive care unit (ICU) intervention and/or are unable to complete the full course of treatment.

Reseachers administered the synthetic enzyme, which mimics the action of a natural enzyme, superoxide dismutase (SOD), as a co-therapy with IL-2 in several animal models of advanced cancer. Previous studies have confirmed that the synthetic enzyme effectively reproduces the free-radical fighting properties of the natural SOD enzyme, which has been found to be deficient in cancer states.

When in excess, free radicals particularly superoxide anions have been shown to deactivate a class of molecules, calle

Contact: Punnie Donohue
Kupper Parker Communications

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