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Drug that hinders blood vessel growth under study in ovarian cancer

A drug that may help prevent recurrence of ovarian cancer by inhibiting development of new blood vessels essential to cancer growth is under study at the Medical College of Georgia.

MCG is among some 25 centers nationally enrolling patients in remission to see if the investigational drug A6 can help them stay that way, says Dr. Sharad Ghamande, MCG gynecologic oncologist and a principal investigator on the study.

In the new study, participants will give themselves daily subcutaneous injections of the drug for four weeks, followed by seven days off. The cycle can be repeated up to 11 times if the disease remains in remission and there are no significant medication side effects.

"For a tumor to grow and spread, it needs blood supply," says Dr. Ghamande. "This blood supply arises de novo. The cancer produces cytokines (growth factors) that stimulate growth of vessel buds around it in a process called angiogenesis. This particular medication targets receptors on new budding blood vessels in an attempt to down-regulate them and prevent growth. If that process is shut down, the tumor should not grow or spread."

A6 has been shown to inhibit cancer metastasis in animal studies and showed "encouraging responses" in patients with advanced ovarian cancer in Phase 1 clinical trials, according to Virgil Thompson, president and chief executive officer of Angstrom Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Daily injections of A6 also were well-tolerated by patients in the earlier study, according to the San Diego-based company. About 24,000 new cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed each year and about three-quarters of those new patients have advanced disease. "Ovarian cancer has no early signs and symptoms and there is not yet a screening test, such as the Pap smear for cervical cancer," Dr. Ghamande says.

Despite the advanced stage of their disease at diagnosis, many women go into clinical remission following surgery and chemotherapy
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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@mcg.edu
706-721-4421
Medical College of Georgia
9-Mar-2005


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