Grant aids effort to produce anti-cancer drugs

January 29, 2008

By hammersmith

[Source: Arizona Daily Star] – A three-decade-long effort to produce cancer-fighting drugs at the Arizona Cancer Center will proceed for at least another five years, with renewed federal funding.

A five-year, $6.5 million grant has just been awarded to the cancer center by the National Cancer Institute, to continue the center’s drug development projects.

This is the cancer center’s longest-running research grant, which has produced two new chemotherapy drugs in recent years, now being tested on humans in early clinical trials.

“This NCI-funded grant has been the centerpiece of Arizona Cancer Center research funding,” said Dr. David S. Alberts, the center’s director, in a statement released Tuesday.

“It is a national treasure in that it has continuously produced seminal data on new, active anti-cancer drugs and drug combinations for cancer treatment.”

The NCI’s first grant for this program, in 1975, brought Alberts to the University of Arizona to get drug development under way.

Among the most recent anticancer drugs in testing now are:

? PX-12, which targets a cancer-causing protein involved in colon, pancreatic, stomach and lung cancers.

The current federal grant will support the study of new anti-cancer drugs similar to PX-12 at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

? Imexon, now being tested in patients with melanoma, lung, breast and prostate cancers.

The new grant will fund testing Imexon in combination with another drug, Gemcitabine, against pancreatic cancer at the Arizona Cancer Center.

Also supported by the new funds is the use of radiologic imaging to identify patients most likely to respond to new chemotherapeutic agents.