A new clinical trial finds that a novel drug can boost the strength of radiation therapy in the fight against cancer with ‘minimal side effects.’
New research finds a safe way to boost the effects of radiation in cancer therapy.
Cancer continues to be one of the top causes of death in the United States. According to the National Cancer Institute, there will be 1,735,350new cancer cases by the end of 2018, of which 609,640 people will die as a result.
Radiation therapy is one of the most common treatments used in the fight against cancer. About 60 percent of cancer patients benefit from radiation, which is used either on its own or together with chemotherapy.
Radiation therapy works by puncturing the DNA inside cancer cells. This stops the cancer cells from growing and multiplying, eventually causing them to die.
Doctors can use radiation to destroy cancer tumors completely or to shrink them in preparation for surgery. This depends on the type of tumor, as some cancers are more sensitive to radiation therapy than others.
New research may have found a way to boost the strength of radiation therapy against cancer cells. Doctors administered a new drug called 5-iodo-2-pyrimidinone-2′-deoxribose (IPdR) — also referred to as ropidoxuridine — to people with cancer in combination with radiation therapy.
Dr. Timothy Kinsella, from the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital — both in Providence, RI — presented the results of the clinical trial at the 30th EORTC-NCI-AACR Symposium on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics in Dublin, Ireland.
The symposium is a collaboration between the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).
Dr. Kinsella explains how scientists developed the drug IPdR, and how it compares with other therapies. He says, “Previous research found a promising compound called iododeoxyuridine, or IUdR, that worked very well to improve the effectiveness of radiotherapy.”
However, the researcher goes on, “IUdR could only be given intravenously and proved to have many side effects for patients.”
“As a result, this new drug, IPdR, was developed. It’s a prodrug that can be taken as a capsule and, once inside the body, it’s converted into the active drug, IUdR.” The researchers believe that in its active form, IUdR weakens cancer cells and makes them easier to destroy with radiation.
In the trial, Dr. Kinsella and team administered the drug to 18 people with various advanced cancers, including cancer of the esophagus, pancreas, liver, and colon
The trial participants received a dose of the IPdR prodrug every day for 28 days. A prodrug is the inactive version of a drug which becomes active once metabolization has taken place.
Throughout the 28-day treatment, the doctors increased the dose gradually, measured levels of both the IPdR prodrug and the active IUdR in the participants’ blood, as well as monitored the participants for side effects.
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