New drug for small cell lung cancer?

Scientists from the Imperial College of London have identified a promising new drug for the treatment of an aggressive form of lung cancer; small cell lung cancer.

Small cell lung cancer forms about 15-20% of the total cases of lung cancer. It is the most aggressive form of cancer that occurs within the lungs and grows and spreads quickly, most often to the brain, liver and bones.

Prognosis is poos, with only a 3-6% 5-year survival rate amongst patients diagnosed with it. As it spreads so quickly, surgery is usually not an option, as it most likely will be in more than one location by the time the patient is diagnosed. Combination chemotherapy and radiotherapy is commonly used instead, but a lot of the time the tumours grow back and are resistant to treatment.

The new drug being tested (PD173074) has been found to kill small cell lung cancer tumours in 50% of the mice it was tested on. It works by preventing a certain growth hormone the cancer cells need (called FGF-2, which speeds up the cancer cells' growth and multiplication) from attaching to its' receptor sites on the cells. It also lowers the cells' resistance to standard chemotherapy.

The next step is to try the drug out on small cell lung cancer patients who cannot be operated on.

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