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Rodent of the Week: Drug shows effect on lung cancer tumors

November 13, 2009 |  1:00 pm

Rodent_of_the_week Small-cell lung cancer is a disease sorely in need of better therapies. Now a study in mice has found a promising drug that may enter clinical trials in humans within a year.

One in five people with lung cancer has small-cell lung cancer. The disease has a poor long-term survival rate because the tumors spread quickly. Previous research has shown that these tumor cells grow faster because they are fueled by a growth hormone called FGF-2.

The study, published this week in the journal Cancer Research, examined a drug called PD173074 because it is known to block the receptor that FGF-2 uses to attach to tumor cells. Given to mice with the disease, the drug eliminated tumors in 50% of cases. Another test showed the compound increased the effect of chemotherapy.

"We urgently need to develop new treatments for this disease," the lead author of the study, Dr. Michael Seckl of Imperial College London, said in a news release. Although small-cell lung cancer "responds to chemotherapy initially, the tumors soon become resistant to treatment and sadly nearly all people with the disease do not survive. ... We hope to take this drug, or a similar drug that also stops FGF-2 from working, into clinical trials next year to see if it is a successful treatment for lung cancer in humans."

— Shari Roan

Photo credit: Advanced Cell Technology, Inc.