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New drug helps boost cancer treatment

Researchers at the Sloane Kettering Cancer Center, New York have achieved a breakthrough of sorts in cancer treatment, by designing a new drug, which attaches itself to a key position on cancer cells and gives new potency to failing chemotherapy drugs thereby extending survival of advanced colorectal cancer patients.

IMC-C225, the new drug which is actually a monoclonal antibody, is designed to interfere with the epidermal growth factor receptor, a molecular structure that, when blocked, makes it more difficult for tumor cells to reproduce.

To test the efficacy of the drug, the oncologists prescribed the new drug to a group of patients with cancer. All of the 120 patients given IMC-C225 were diagnosed with cancer that was progressing. When given the drug 22.5 percent of the patients achieved a partial response to therapy -- that is, their tumors were reduced by more than 50 percent. Another 7 percent of patients were able to have their disease stabilized.

Further studies of the drug are continuing in colorectal, head, neck, pancreatic and lung cancer. The monoclonal antibody was well tolerated by the patients. The most common side effect attributed to the drug was an acne-like skin rash that occurs because skin cells also contain large amounts of epidermal growth factor receptors.

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