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New Tumour Destroying Drug

A new cancer drug has been found to “annihilate” solid tumours in the lab, researchers in the US have announced.

Cancer cells

The chemotherapy was tested on 70 different cancer cells, along with some healthy human cells as a control. It was effective against all the cancer cells, including those derived from breast, prostate, brain, ovarian, cervical, skin and lung cancers, says a report in Cell Chemical Biology, but it did not harm the healthy ones.

The drug is codenamed AOH1996 after Anna Olivia Healey, who died from neuroblastoma aged nine in 1996. Dr Linda Malkas, who led the team at the City of Hope centre in Los Angeles, had met Anna’s father just before she died, and promised to look for new treatments in her memory.

She was true to her word. The culmination of years of research, AOH1996 works by targeting cells with faulty DNA, and disrupting the process of division and repair. "Our cancer-killing pill is like a snowstorm that closes a key airline hub, shutting down all flights in and out only in planes carrying cancer cells," says Malkas.

Malkas must now establish whether the drug is safe and effective when used on human patients.

A phase one trial currently under way involves eight people who have exhausted existing treatment options taking two pills of AOH1996 a day to determine if it is safe. If this trial goes well, larger ones will follow.


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