New child cancer drug tests successful

Researchers from the Children’s Cancer Hospital at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center have identified a drug that prevents blood vessels from aiding the growth of neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer.

The drug, AMD3100, was shown to reduce the growth of a tumor by more than 75 percent in mice, according to investigators who presented their findings Friday at the 22nd annual meeting of the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology in San Diego.

“AMD3100 works by shutting down the process that tumors need to set up vascular systems,” Patrick Zweidler-McKay, senior investigator on the study, said in a statement. “The drug doesn’t kill neuroblastoma cells directly, but it prevents tumors from growing rapidly by disrupting their blood supply.

“There is the possibility that this therapy could help prevent neuroblastoma metastasis to the bone marrow. However, more studies are needed to investigate this theory.”

About 650 children in the United States under the age of five are diagnosed each year with neuroblastoma, according to the American Cancer Society. Of those children, nearly two-thirds are diagnosed after the cancer has metastasized to other parts of the body. For these patients with high-risk neuroblastoma, long-term survival is less than 40 percent because the tumors are often resistant to traditional chemotherapy.

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