March 25, 2009

Scientists develop canine cancer drug

A U.S. scientist says he's developed a Trojan horse drug treatment that is showing promising results in treating dogs suffering from cancer.

Joseph Bauer of the Cleveland Clinic has developed a drug called nitrosylcobalamin that has successfully battled cancer in four canines with no negative side effects. Bauer says the drug might lead to a new cancer treatment for humans.

The beauty of using a dog or a cat to test a cancer drug is two-fold. First, the animal can get the benefit of the most up-to-date drug in cancer medicine, said Bauer. Second "¦ if you can find an agent to treat cancer that occurs in a dog with success, there is a higher likelihood you can take that to the human population and have a much higher response rate than with mice.

The drug targets cancer cells with biological Trojan horse technology. Bauer said cells have receptors for vitamin B12 on their outer surface. In order to divide at their abnormally rapid pace, cancer cells grow extra B12 receptors -- 100 times more than normal cells. Bauer and his colleagues attach nitric oxide molecules to vitamin B12. The nitric oxide kills cancer cells. The B12 acts as the Trojan horse, easily slipping into cancer cells. The subsequent release of nitric oxide kills the cancer cells from within.

The team's goal is to move the drug into human trials as soon as possible.

The research was presented this week in Salt Lake City during a national meeting of the American Chemical Society.