Immune System Boosting Drug to Work With Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Nivolumab PD1 inhibitor drug

Nivolumab PD1 inhibitor drug

A number of new drugs have shown the ability to boost the immune system to help it fight cancer. Some of the drugs simply help the immune system detect and kill cancer cells. They do this by disabling the mechanisms cancer cells use to remain hidden.

One such drug is Nivolumab. There is a protein called programmed cell death 1 (PD-1), that helps the immune system understand which cells should die. Another molecule can attach itself to PD-1 to form PD-L1, which tells the immune system to not attack a cell. This prevents the immune system from going overboard and killing too many cells. The problem is the fact that cancer cells are smart enough to product their own PD-L1 protein and avoid detection by the immune system. The drug stops cancer cells from creating PD-L proteins, which helps the immune system notice and attack the cancerous cells.

Trials have seen some great results with Nivolumab, particularly in the treatment of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and other lymphatic system cancers. The drugs are especially useful for shrinking the size of tumors, as the immune system starts to recognize the cancerous cells and pull them away from the tumor mass. Researchers expect these kinds of drugs to be particularly effective at beating cancers affecting the blood and bone marrow.

A drug called pembrolizumab is another (PD-1) receptor inhibitor, showing promising results. A small study showed that the drug shrank tumors in 66% of the sample group.

These results should be looked at with some caution though, because they are phase one trial results. The research has only used small groups of test subjects so far.

According to Cancer.gov, there are 185,793 people living with Hodgkin Lymphoma in the United States. The five year survival rate is 85.3% (based on 2004-2010 figures).

There are some serious side effects with drugs that inhibit PD-1. 22% of the people involved in the nivolumab trial had a serious side effect. That can include inflammation of internal organs like the colon, lung and pancreas.

If the trials continue to go well, we will see these drugs in the market within a couple of years.

Repurposing Drugs for use in Oncology

Cimetidine to help fight cancer

Cimetidine to help fight cancer

A new research paper has looked at commonly used drugs that can be repurposed to help fight cancer. One example is the common used indigestion medicine cimetidine, which can help treat colorectal cancer.

Medical professionals already know cimetidine is safe, from various trials and many years of use. Therefore, it can be easily combined with other cancer treatments. Cimetidine reduces digestion by blocking histamine receptors in the gut, which reduces the production of gastric acid. It turns out that the drug can also block histamine receptors in cancer cells, which helps the immune system defend against them.

Cimetidine may have a beneficial effect in treating colorectal cancer, renal cancer and melanoma.

The researchers found that:

Based on the evidence presented, it is proposed that cimetidine would synergise with a range of other drugs, including existing chemotherapeutics, and that further exploration of the potential of cimetidine as an anti-cancer therapeutic is warranted. Furthermore, there is compelling evidence that cimetidine administration during the peri-operative period may provide a survival benefit in some cancers. A number of possible combinations with other drugs are discussed in the supplementary material accompanying this paper.

Reducing Cancer Risk

One of the most common drugs that can be repurposed to help avoid cancer may be aspirin. There is a growing body of research that aspirin can reduce pancreatic cancer risk and improve colorectal cancer prognosis.

Repurposing Drugs in Oncology (ReDO)

ReDO is a project that has been looking at ways common drugs may be used to help improve cancer treatments.

It’s primary pbjectives are:

– Identify the most promising drugs for further clinical investigation
– Review and bring to the attention of clinical investigators the data for these drugs
– Document on how these drugs can be combined with existing therapies, or with other repurposed drugs
– Develop clinical trials to provide positive or negative evidence of efficacy
– Where necessary, suggest areas where further pre-clinical work is necessary

By finding commonly used drugs that have a beneficial effect in the fight against cancer, the research group also helps provide low cost treatments and preventatives against cancer.

FDA Approves Ovarian Cancer Drug “Avastin”

Avastin Receives FDA Approval for Ovarian Cancer

Avastin Receives FDA Approval for Ovarian Cancer

Drugmaker Roche has notified the public that the FDA has approved Avastin as a treatment for Ovarian cancer.

The new drug is designed to work in conjunction with chemotherapy in recurrent cases where there is resistance to platinum-based chemotherapy. The drug has already been approved for Glioblastoma (GBM), Metastatic Colorectal Cancer (mCRC), Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) and Metastatic Kidney Cancer (mRCC).

Avastin is a angiogenesis inhibitor, that slows the growth of new blood vessels. It blocks angiogenesis by inhibiting vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A), which is a chemical signal used by cancer to help the disease spread.

The drug was first approved in 2004 by the FDA for metastatic colon cancer. In the past Roche also tried to have the drug approved for breast cancer, but it was shown to be ineffective in trials.

The drug is a big money maker for Roche, having netted them a whopping $6.25 billion in 2013.

Side Effects
The drug carries a number of serious side effects that cancer patients must be aware of.

Some of the more serious ones are:

  • GI perforation (a hole that develops in your stomach or intestine)
  • Wounds that don’t heal
  • .

  • Serious bleeding
  • (This includes vomiting or coughing up blood; bleeding in the stomach, brain, or spinal cord; nosebleeds; and vaginal bleeding)

Other side effects can include severely high blood pressure, kidney problems, infusion reactions, stroke, heart problems, nervous system problems and vision problems.

The drug carries some serious side effects, but is an important part of the cancer treatment regime for many people.