Drug coupled with peptide delivers targeted tumor treatment

There might be a way to make a cancer drug more effectively deliver its tumor attack without harming healthy cells. Researchers at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute believe combining the treatment with a peptide drawn to certain tumor blood vessels will deliver a more targeted, effective and safer dose.

If successful, they see the peptide--known as IF7-- as a way to deliver a number of anti-cancer drugs that kill the disease but leave healthy cells unharmed. The combined treatment was effective in mice with colon tumors, and they didn't experience side effects, so the same could hold true in people, the research team said.

Details are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In initial lab work scientists first discovered that IF7 bound with annexin 1, a carbohydrate-binding protein found in dense levels on the surface of blood vessels that feed tumors. Coupling it with the anti-cancer drug SN-38, they gave the mice daily injections. Treated mice saw their tumors shrink substantially through a fraction of the SN-38 dose used previously to treat mice, but without visible signs of side effects.

The researchers believe their system could work with any cancer, so long as the tumor induces expression of annexin 1, and IF7 is paired with the right drug.

The National Cancer Institute, Department of Defense and Susan G. Komen for the Cure funded the international research effort.

- here's the release