Transplant anti-rejection treatment could be next cancer drug
Rapamycin--long used as an anti-rejection drug for transplant patients--will be tested against a number of cancers in a new preliminary study.
Tyler Curiel, an immunologist and professor of medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center, is pursuing the initiative, the San Antonio Express-News reports, armed with a $450,000 two-year grant from the National Cancer Institute. He'll explore whether the drug helps combat cancer by gearing up the immune system to attack and destroy cancer cells.
Curiel's new project builds on previous preclinical research he and others have conducted determining that rapamycin--marketed as Rapamune by Pfizer ($PFE)--seemed to boost the immune response in mice. The idea, according to the story, is that the drug could boost the immune response to prevent the onset of several kinds of cancers.
Other researchers are focusing on rapamycin more indirectly as a cancer treatment. The Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY, for example, is pursuing an early-stage human clinical trial to test an anti-cancer vaccine in combination with rapamycin, in the idea that the drug will boost the body's immune system response to the vaccine. The new study appears to be focusing on using rapamycin, as a possible cancer preventative in and of itself.
We're intrigued by this initiative. While it may be a long time before rapamycin is used as an anti-cancer preventative drug, the study is worth pursing. Many drugs approved for one use often end up demonstrating clinical power in other indications, and early tests have shown enough promise that this new research will be worth following.
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