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Researchers granted funding to explore novel lung cancer strategies
Date:5/1/2014

DALLAS May 1, 2014 Two UT Southwestern doctors have received more than a half-million dollars in grants from the Department of Defense for innovative studies on lung cancer pathways and to test the effectiveness of a potentially less expensive drug therapy.

We think tumors hijack the hedgehog signaling pathway that is normally active during development and in the repair of injured tissues and then use the pathway for their own purpose, which is to grow, said Dr. Kim, who received a Career Development Award designed to encourage and assist promising researchers in the early stages of their careers. We will test the idea that interfering with the hedgehog pathway will disrupt communication between tumor cells and their surrounding environment and thus slow the cancers growth.

Originally developed as an anti-fungal medication, itraconazole is less expensive than many cancer drugs and already approved by the Food and Drug Administration for non-cancer treatments in thousands of patients, so its effect on people is well known and the drug has an established safety record.

The repurposing of an existing drug such as itraconazole is an excellent opportunity for oncology drug development, said Dr. Gerber, co-leader of the Experimental Therapeutics Program in the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern. Because the drug already has an established safety record and dosing regimen, we can focus on the drugs efficacy and biologic effects early on.

All of the hedgehog pathway inhibitors that have been developed for cancer are still on patent and cost several thousand dollars per month, Dr. Kim said. Itraconazole, on the other hand, costs a fraction of these other agents, said Dr. Gerber.

Itraconazole is considered promising becaus
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Contact: Patrick McGee
patrick.mcgee@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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