AsianScientist (May 13, 2013) – A new class of drug targeting skin cancer’s genetic material has been found to be safe in a clinical trial of patients with the common skin cancer, basal-cell carcinoma.
The research involves the drug Dz13, a targeted molecular therapy, which targets a master regulator gene called c-Jun that appears to be involved in a range of diseases.
The drug was developed at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and tested in a collaborative trial conducted by researchers from UNSW, the University of Sydney, and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Results from the study were published in the journal, The Lancet.
“This is the first report of a drug of this type to be used in humans,” says UNSW Medicine’s Professor Levon Khachigian, who has been developing the DNAzyme technology for ten years. “Even though we were only testing for safety, there were unexpected positive effects. The drug knocked down levels of this bad protein and the tumors shrunk in the majority of patients.”
The researchers hope subsequent trials will prove that larger doses of the drug over a longer time period will be more effective.
“Targeted molecular therapy like this might also offer novel, effective, and less invasive therapeutic options for basal-cell carcinoma,” says Professor Gary Halliday, from the University of Sydney, who is one of the co-authors of the study.
If the next stages of the clinical trials in basal-cell carcinoma are successful, the researchers hope that within three years, the drug could be used as a treatment for these cancers, reducing scarring and the costs and inconvenience associated with surgery.
A Phase I trial in skin melanoma is expected to begin in a month.
The article can be found at: Cho E-A et al. (2013) Safety and tolerability of an intratumorally injected DNAzyme, Dz13, in patients with nodular basal-cell carcinoma: a phase 1 first-in-human trial (DISCOVER).
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