Thursday, March 8, 2007
Medical Reports: Right on Target
New research right here in South Florida could one day offer a new way to kill cancer. An experimental drug in clinical trials is hitting the cancer cells that chemotherapy misses. 7's Richard Lemus shows us how this liquid is right on target.
WSVN -- Mort Silverblatt knows all about the devastation that cancer can cause.
Thirty years ago he was struck with head and neck cancer.
Mort Silverblatt: "I didn't walk away from it. I faced it."
But recently he faced cancer again, this time in his lungs.
Mort Silverblatt: "I was very shocked, at that point. That was kind of frightening."
Frightening because lung cancer is often a death sentence for the patients it strikes.
Mort Silverblatt: "More people die of lung cancer, but now we've got some things that are doing a better job with lung cancer."
One of those things giving cancer patients like Mort new hope is an experimental drug called 2DG.
The drug is in a phase one clinical trial at UM Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.
2DG is a liquid that patients drink once a day, and it's used in combination with chemotherapy.
Ted Lampidis: "This particular technology is actually targeting the cells that chemotherapy cannot."
While chemo attacks cancer cells through the blood, researchers believe the core of the tumor will often use sugar to survive.
That's where 2DG comes in, cutting off the sugar.
Ted Lampidis: "It's cutting off the energy that they need to survive. We are basically starving the tumor of energy."
Thirty-three people with all different types of terminal cancer are enrolled in the study.
So far, eight of those -- including Mort -- have seen their tumors stabilize at some point.
Something that surprised even the researchers, since most of the patients were terminal.
Dr. Luis Raez: "We have been very lucky that we have seen some people responding to these combinations."
Mort feels he's lucky that the new treatments have given him more time to enjoy with his family.
Mort Silverblatt: "All of these things together are helping more people than ever before. I enjoy every day."
Richard Lemus: "Researchers are now working on finding the best way to use this drug, like how many times a day and how long it should be taken. If all goes well, researchers hope to start phase two trials in the next year."