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Researchers Find New Target for Anti-cancer Drugs

and nourishment of tumours.

IL-6 was like the gas pedal driving the growth of tumours. No gas, no growth, which is exactly what we saw when we inhibited IL-6 in tumours, Counter said.

Counter is encouraged that even though these findings are in cell culture and animal models, therapies based on targeting IL-6 in cancers driven by the ras oncogene could be tested in humans in the near future. A biotechnology company has already developed a monoclonal antibody specific to IL-6 which could be used to neutralize IL-6.

A phase II trial is underway testing a monoclonal antibody against IL-6 for patients with multiple myeloma, a cancer that depends on IL-6 but is not known to have a connection to the ras oncogene. If the results of this trial are positive, studies might begin in ras-dependent cancers. Counters group is actively pursuing the idea that such an antibody may inhibit pancreatic cancer growth in mouse models. If these results are positive, this will open the door for Duke oncologists to organize a clinical trial to test the agent in human cancer patients.

Secreted proteins promoting the growth of blood vessels in tumours have been successfully neutralized in the past with antibodies. We believe that IL-6 is a viable target for drugs that holds promise in the treatment of cancers dependent on the ras oncogene, Brooke Ancrile, a graduate student in Counters laboratory, was first author of the paper said.

The results of the Duke experiments were published July 15, 2007, in the journal Genes & Development.


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