Anaeropharma/Eisai launch bacteria-based cancer combo drug trial

A Tokyo biopharmaceutical company has nailed down up to 2.2 billion yen ($27.6 million U.S.) in additional financing to fuel U.S. and other clinical tests for a cancer drug with a bacteria-based drug delivery method designed to help reduce side effects.

Anaeropharma Science is launching clinical tests with the drug in the United States as early as March. Plans call for testing the drug in 60 patients over 3 ½ years to monitor its long-term effects, the Daily Yomiuri reports. Japanese drug giant Eisai is partnering with the company to bring the drug to market, the article explains.

Innovation Network, a public-private financing operation, supplied the new funding. Shinshu University medical professors and researchers designed a drug delivery process that is both straightforward and a little bit complex, according to the story.

Anaeropharma's drug, designed to fight stomach and other types of cancers with solid tumors, is loaded with bifidobacteria. The substance apparently shares with solid tumors an ability to thrive in environments lacking oxygen, and helps the drug reach and build up within its tumor target.

An anticancer agent given by mouth selectively targets those tumors after reacting to the drug, the article explains. The idea here is that if the treatment is successful, a targeted drug could contain a higher concentration of a cancer treatment. But because the treatment targets a tumor so closely, less of the drug would hit healthy tissue and patients would experience fewer side effects. Let's hope that's true moving ahead.

- here's the story

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