Sun, Nov 02, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Universities pass torch on cancer drug to company

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

A promising new drug that can inhibit cancer development has been transferred from its developers — two universities in Taiwan — to a multinational pharmaceutical company, which will continue research and development on the medication, academic sources said on Friday.

According to National Taiwan University (NTU) and National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Tainan, the drug — an inhibitor against integrin protein “alpha-nu-beta-3” — will be released to the Taiwanese subsidiary of US-based Anchen Pharmaceuticals under an agreement signed on Friday in Taipei.

Chuang Woei-jer (莊偉哲), a professor of medicine at NCKU, said that the integrin alpha-nu-beta-3 adheres one cell to another, which can inadvertently trigger angiogenesis, a process whereby cancer cells encourage the growth of extra blood vessels to acquire additional nutrition.

EFFECTS

By inhibiting alpha-nu-beta-3, Chuang said, the drug — known by the name “alpha-nu-beta-3 disintegrin” — can effectively suppress angiogenesis and the activity of osteoclasts, a kind of cell that destroys bone cells.

When osteoclasts are over-excited, they can lead a cancer to metastasize to the bones.

Once angiogenesis and osteoclasts are moderated, the tumorous cells will lose their vitality and become more susceptible to the curative powers of other drugs, Chuang said.

Fu Wen-mei (符文美), a professor of medicine at NTU, said the new drug can be used to treat cancer metastasis to the bones, macular degeneration and osteoporosis.

Potential annual sales of the drug have been estimated at no less than NT$30 billion (US$910 million), Fu said.

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