BLOOMFIELD, N.J., April 18, 2007 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- ONCONASE (ranpirnase), Alfacell Corporation's lead drug candidate, may have potential as a chemopreventive agent, according to world-renowned mesothelioma researcher Michele Carbone M.D., Ph.D., at this week's American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting.
In a series of poster presentations, Dr. Carbone highlighted the growing worldwide problem of asbestos exposure and its link to malignant mesothelioma. Dr. Carbone presented data that show the early detection in patients at high risk for developing malignant mesothelioma is becoming more prevalent via the presence of certain biological markers in blood samples. Furthermore, he pointed out that ONCONASE's favorable toxicity profile and its well-documented mechanism of action, which directly affects the pathway that has been shown to cause asbestos carcinogenesis, position ONCONASE for potential early administration to populations "at-risk" for mesothelioma. If clinically validated, such a new approach might enable physicians to use ONCONASE as a chemopreventive agent to potentially prevent the onset of mesothelioma, or reduce the doses of cytotoxic agents needed in those patients who develop the disease.
"The potential of ONCONASE as an early first-line preventative treatment for mesothelioma is an exciting development that we plan to investigate through clinical trials," said Dr. Carbone. "With approximately more than 25 million asbestos exposure cases reported worldwide, we believe that ONCONASE might play a greater role in the treatment protocols for a much larger population than was originally envisioned for this dismal disease."
Dr. Carbone is a professor and director of the thoracic oncology program as well as a clinical professor of pathology with the University of Hawaii's Cancer Research Center of Hawaii, and chairman of the Alfacell Thoracic Advisory Boar d. Previously, Dr. Carbone was Director of the Thoracic Oncology Program at Loyola University in Chicago, where he is also a tenured Professor at the Cancer Center, Department of Pathology. He also held scientific and academic positions at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and at the University of Chicago.
Kuslima Shogen, Alfacell's chairman and chief executive officer, added: "Dr. Carbone is recognized as one of the world's leading researchers in mesothelioma. His remarks about ONCONASE at the AACR Annual Meeting reflect the interest of the international medical community in expanding the potential uses of ONCONASE."
ONCONASE is a first-in-class therapeutic product candidate based on Alfacell's proprietary ribonuclease (RNase) technology. A natural protein isolated from the leopard frog, ONCONASE has been shown in the laboratory and clinic to target cancer cells while sparing normal cells. ONCONASE triggers apoptosis, the natural death of cells, via multiple molecular mechanisms of action.
About Alfacell Corporation
Alfacell Corporation is the first company to advance a biopharmaceutical product candidate that works in a manner similar to RNA interference (RNAi) through late-stage clinical trials. The product candidate, ONCONASE, is an RNase that overcomes the challenges of targeting RNA for therapeutic purposes while enabling the development of a new class of targeted therapies for cancer and other life-threatening diseases. In addition to an ongoing Phase IIIb study in malignant mesothelioma, Alfacell is conducting a Phase I/II trial of ONCONASE in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and other solid tumors. For more information, visit www.alfacell.com.
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