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Basic research leads to a novel cancer therapy

treated with Sunitinib, compared to the placebo group. Patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma saw a shrinking of the tumour; in 26 to 37 percent of them, the tumour shrunk to at least half its size.

Sunitinib has not yet been approved in Germany, but approval and market entry are expected in this year. Sunitinib is administered after diagnosis. A large number of further clinical studies has shown that Sunitinib has multiple effects on tumour cells and can thus be defined as a novel "multi-targeted" drug.

Sunitinib is being tested now, as well, on patients with advanced forms of bladder cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer, colon cancer, esophageal cancer, head and neck tumours, liver cancer, lung cancer, melanoma, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, and testicular cancer. The studies are in various stages of clinical trials (phases I through III), and most of them are being carried out in combination with other therapies.

Ullrich is very pleased with the quick approval of SUTENT®. He says, "Already before approval, 1,700 patients could be treated with the new preparation, thanks to the Accelerated Approval Process. Naturally, we're happy that our research led so quickly to application in cancer therapy. Each year, 390,000 people in Germany alone, and several million worldwide, become ill with cancer. Every fourth death is related to a tumour. We can improve the length and quality of patients' lives by treating them with very specific drugs, which attack a variety of characteristics of tumour cells. Therapy with multi-targeted substances which block signal transduction in tumour cells is a new breakthrough in the war on cancer. They attack critical cancer cell functions in multiple ways and are well tolerated by patients."

This is the second time that Ullrich has played a leading role in the development of a successful cancer therapy. Seven years ago, his research led the breast-cancer therapy Herceptin® to be br
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Source:Max-Planck-Gesellschaft


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