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Local Research Foundation Achieves Milestone in Fight Against Cancer

CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation for Cancer Research Develops Innovative

Anticancer Drug

HOUSTON, Oct. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Almost everyone knows the devastation that cancer brings to families, workplaces and communities, and many Houstonians are aware of well-known local cancer treatment institutions. Few, however, may be familiar with the CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation for Cancer Research, a nationally recognized leader in cancer research located in Houston, which recently achieved a milestone in their battle against cancer.

The CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation recently received word from the Food and Drug Administration that CZ48, a promising anticancer drug they discovered and developed, was approved to begin Phase I (human) clinical trials. This is a large step in the journey to offer this potentially lifesaving drug to people suffering from cancer.

This is a remarkable accomplishment, since past records show that for every 5,000 to 10,000 oncology compounds discovered, only 250 make it to pre-clinical phases, and only five (one-tenth of one percent) are approved by the FDA for these human studies.

CZ48 is a derivative of extracts from a Chinese tree, the Camptotheca Acuminata, which more than 45 years ago showed potent anticancer activity against a type of mouse leukemia. The Stehlin Foundation has been researching cancer treatment with the Camptothecin family of compounds since 1988, and as a pioneer in the development of the Camptothecin family of drugs, has synthesized and tested more than 200 Camptothecin derivatives. In fact, the New York Academy of Science wrote, "Camptothecins can be envisioned as the ultimate anticancer drugs when fully developed."

The first phase of the trial has begun at the University of New Mexico Cancer Center in Albuquerque, N.M., and plans are also under way to offer the trial at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Tenn. This phase of the clinical trial process is expected to last 12-15 months.

The CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation is hopeful about the results of these clinical trials, as CZ48 has been shown in pre-clinical studies to exhibit a broad spectrum of anticancer activity against a wide array of human cancers growing in nude mice with a striking lack of toxicity. CZ48 is also innovative in that it can be taken orally, and pre-clinical studies indicate that it has very few side effects. This makes its appeal even stronger for human cancer treatment.

"We have always felt that CZ48 holds tremendous promise as a cancer treatment, which is why we have worked so diligently to make it available," said Dr. Beppino Giovanella, laboratory director at the CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation for Cancer Research. "It is our hope that CZ48 will continue the legacy of the foundation and bring renewed hope and life to people around the world who suffer from cancer."

About the CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation for Cancer Research

The CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation for Cancer Research has developed and supported many innovative and life-saving treatments for patients with cancer, including being some of the first to recommend a lumpectomy for women with breast cancer. The CHRISTUS Foundation also innovated the use of nude mice in cancer research. Nude mouse tests are now the final, non-human studies required by the National Cancer Institute for determining the effectiveness of potential anticancer agents. Many scientists around the world consider the nude mouse one of the 20th century's most significant breakthroughs in cancer research.

The foundation was established by Dr. John S. Stehlin Jr., a cancer specialist and surgeon, with a specific and urgent mission: to find and develop the most effective treatments for the patient who suffered from cancer in the shortest period of time. In reaction to his mounting frustration with the traditional approach to cancer treatment, he developed a tripartnership concept between clinician, research scientist and patient, in which everyone works together to provide the best overall treatment. The CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation conducts research that can be applied directly to improving the treatment of the patient with cancer, and all research is clinically oriented. Visit them on the web at

About CHRISTUS Health

CHRISTUS Health, an international Catholic, faith-based, not-for-profit health system, is headquartered in Dallas and is comprised of almost 350 services and facilities, including more than 50 hospitals and long-term care facilities, 175 clinics and outpatient centers and dozens of other health ministries and ventures in more than 60 cities in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Georgia, Utah and Mexico. The system employs more than 28,000 Associates -- including 8,000 physicians on facility medical staffs -- that provide care and support for patients. CHRISTUS Health is listed among the top ten Catholic health systems in the U.S., and among the nation's Top 100 integrated Healthcare Networks.

SOURCE CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation
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