UW-Madison Center One Of Two Sites Nationwide Selected For Clinical Trial Of Cancer Drug

MADISON - The University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center has been chosen as one of two sites in the nation to conduct human tests of endostatin, a promising potential cancer treatment that seems to work in part by disrupting the growth of blood vessels that nourish tumor cells.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) notified the UWCCC early this afternoon of its participation.

"We are honored and very excited to be taking part in these trials," said UWCCC Director Dr. John Niederhuber. "This is an important opportunity to answer some key questions about a very interesting compound."

Endostatin's potential value as a cancer treatment received worldwide attention after a May 1998 New York Times article described early results in mice in the laboratory of Dr. Judah Folkman of Harvard Medical School. In May 1998, the NCI called animal studies on the compound "encouraging" and later announced it would entertain applications from research organizations to conduct tests in humans.

In animal studies, endostatin inhibited the growth of already existing tumors and caused some to shrink to microscopic lesions. When researchers examined those tiny lesions, they found the endostatin had blocked the growth of blood vessels that nourished the tumors.

Researchers also conducted tests in which mice were given endostatin until their tumors shrank, at which time the treatment was stopped. Treatment resumed when the tumors began to grow back. In each case, the tumors in mice became smaller when endostatin was given. Significantly, the tumors did not develop resistance to endostatin even after six cycles of treatment.

The trials at UW will be "Phase 1" tests in which researchers will try to discover the maximum dose patients can tolerate without undue toxicity. Initially, three to six patients will receive small doses of the drug and will be carefully monitored for toxic effects. Additional patients will then receive graduated doses of the drug. Al

Contact: Lisa Brunette
University of Wisconsin-Madison

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