NEW ANTI-VASCULAR DRUGS -
WHO WILL BENEFIT?
One of the most promising areas of cancer treatment today is also among the most challenging. A new class of anti-cancer drugs works by interfering with the formation of capillaries which deliver blood to the tumor mass. Eliminating the blood supply to the tumor starves cancer cells of oxygen and nutrients, interferes with the elimination of cellular wastes, shuts-down routes of tumor metastasis, and potentially aids in the delivery of other types of anti-cancer drugs to the tumor mass.
The problem is that the new drugs – called anti-angiogenesis drugs – work for only a small percentage of patients. Moreover, they cause very serious side effects in some patients and they are extremely expensive – well over $100,000 per year of treatment. Anti-angiogenesis drugs are being used more and more frequently in a widening range of cancer types and so the cost to the healthcare system and to individual patients who must pay for insurance co-payments is staggering. In fact, several new drugs have now shown anti-angiogenesis activity and these are being combined with standard drugs and with other targeted drugs to produce the maximum therapeutic benefit. A critical but previously-elusive challenge, therefore, has been to develop methods to identify exactly which patients could benefit from anti-angiogenesis therapy, which anti-angiogenesis drugs are best for these patients, and precisely which additional drugs, if any, should be administered concurrently in order to achieve the best result for each patient.
Dr. Weisenthal was granted patents on a laboratory test he invented. The test is called the AngioRx™ Assay and it is based upon his discovery that endothelial cells are present in disaggregated tumor micro-clusters. Previously, this phenomenon had never been reported in the medical literature. Endothelial cells form capillaries that supply blood to tumor cells. The AngioRx™assay is the only laboratory test capable of identifying anti-angiogenic drug activity in live tumor micro-clusters. Other capabilities exclusive to Dr. Weisenthal’s AngioRx™assay are:
- Discriminates anti-tumor effect from anti-angiogenic effect within mixed-populations of tumor, endothelial, and other cell types. It is extremely important to understand the mechanism by which treatment works for each patient.
- Measures the effects of different anti-angiogenic drugs within the same drug class. This is essential for pin-pointing which specific anti-angiogenic drug will work best for each patient - several such drugs are available.
- Measures the single-agent activity of specific anti-angiogenic drugs, standard cytotoxic drugs, and EGFR-targeted drugs. This can be the key to identifying potentially-beneficial drug combinations for each patient.
- Identifies synergistic effects which can occur among specific anti-angiogenic and non-anti-angiogenic drugs in rationally-selected drug combinations. This exclusive capability becomes particularly critical when combining cytotoxic drugs with anti-vascular drugs.