The results of a recent study endorse the approach being taken by Noxopharm in using NOX66 to allow low dosages of chemotherapy to be used…much lower than currently in general use.
The obvious advantage we are pursuing with NOX66 is that chemotherapy potentially could be used at levels unlikely to cause any side-effects, making life for most cancer patients considerably more tolerable, as well as making chemotherapy an option for the elderly and frail.
But a recent study has introduced a new and potentially very important benefit. The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine (Chen et al, Nov 25) and covered in a recent story by journalist John Ross in The Australian (November 24, 2016).
Essentially, chemotherapy currently is given at the highest dosages possible. The theory goes something like this … chemotherapy is not going to kill all the cancer cells present in the body, but by hitting them with as much drug as possible, then we are maximising the chance of killing as many cells as possible. Unfortunately, some cancer cells will survive and the self-selection of these ‘super’ cancer cells will go on to form a new generation of cancers that will be more aggressive and more difficult to treat.
A fascinating study conducted at National Taipai University has introduced a completely new notion into why a cancer comes back more aggressively following therapy. The study showed that in animals treated with high dose chemotherapy, supporting connective tissue cells in the tumour produce proteins that promote aggressive behaviour in the cancer cells that survive the chemotherapy, whereas low dose chemotherapy had no such effect. In other words, the surviving cancer cells are being given a boost in the rate at which they divide and spread by proteins being released from supportive connective tissue cells. If this effect applies to humans, and it is hard to see why it wouldn’t, then we are potentially looking at a double-whammy effect where the toughest cancer cells survive the chemotherapy onslaught only to be further super-charged by an inadvertent effect of high dose chemotherapy on connective tissue cells within the tumour.
Accepting the usual provisos of this being a single animal study that needs to be repeated by others and then repeated in humans, at the very least it provides another justification for what we are trying to achieve in using NOX66 to lower dosages of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to levels that will cause no side-effects.
We currently are just awaiting the start of the first 2 clinical studies, with another 3 clinical studies to be submitted to the respective hospital ethics committees first thing in the New Year.