For those suffering from primary bone cancer — which is cancer that originates in the bones — a promising new medication may be on the horizon.
The drug, called CADD522, works by blocking a gene called RUNX2, which is critical to the process of bone formation in cancer patients.
In a recent study of mice, CADD522 significantly reduced tumor volume, increased survival and reduced cancer-induced bone disease — all without surgery.
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The study, which appeared in the Journal of Bone Oncology, was led by the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, along with researchers from the University of Sheffield, Newcastle University, the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham, and the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital.
Lead researcher Dr. Darrell Green, a molecular biologist at the University of East Anglia, told Online News 72h Digital that there have been no new treatments for bone cancer for 45 years. “This new drug, if approved, would be the first new drug in decades,” he said in an email.
Green said that in preclinical trials, CADD522 resulted in a 50% increase in survival rates for all main types of bone cancer — without chemotherapy or surgery.
He is hopeful that survival would be further improved with the addition of other treatments.
“Also, because it is a targeted medicine, we are yet to observe side effects,” Green added. “The drug only attacks the cancer cells and leaves the rest of the body alone.”
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Green was inspired to study childhood bone cancer after his best friend died from the disease as a teenager.
“I hope that my work and the development of this new drug does him proud and carries his legacy forever.”
“Ben’s biggest fear before he passed away is that he would be forgotten,” Green told Online News 72h Digital.
“I hope that my work and the development of this new drug does him proud and carries his legacy forever, ensuring that he is absolutely not forgotten.”
More research needed, says oncologist
Dr. Susannah Cooper, a board-certified oncologist and hematologist at Arizona Oncology, reviewed the study but was not involved in the research. She told Online News 72h Digital that the results of these preliminary tests are promising.
“There are some cancers that have limited response to conventional treatments, and subsets of primary bone cancer are in this category,” Dr. Cooper said in an email.
“As a result of this, there have been minimal advances in their survival in the past 40 years. New treatment approaches are essential in ensuring patients have the best outcomes.”
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Although Cooper is encouraged by CADD522’s leading to decreased tumors and improved survival in cell cultures and animal models, she pointed out that there is still a lot of research to be done before this drug will be used in the treatment of bone cancers.
The new drug resulted in a 50% increase in survival rates for all main types of bone cancer.
“However, it does highlight how understanding tumors at a molecular level and creating medications that specifically target the genes responsible for the onset and growth of cancer can lead to better responses with fewer side effects,” Cooper said.
“This method of drug development has changed the shape of cancer care in recent years and is currently used in almost all cancer types.”
Up until this point, bone cancer treatments have mainly included high-dose chemotherapy — which can have significant side effects — and surgery, which sometimes involves amputation of the affected limb.
Green is hopeful that if his team obtains the necessary funding, they could have a clinical trial for patients up and running within two to three years.
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Osteosarcoma, the most common type of bone cancer, primarily affects children and young adults, the Mayo Clinic states on its website.
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The American Cancer Society estimates that about 3,970 new cases of bone cancer will be diagnosed in 2023.
Around 2,140 people are expected to die from the disease this year.