We all know the story of penicillin’s discovery: it arose from a lab accident when Alexander Fleming noticed that an accidental mold was killing bacteria. That coincidental discovery changed the modern world. It looks as if we can be seeing another pencillin moment, with an accidental fungus leading the way in the fight against cancer (emphasis mine):
A drug developed using nanotechnology and a fungus that contaminated a lab experiment may be broadly effective against a range of cancers, U.S. researchers reported on Sunday.
The drug, called lodamin, was improved in one of the last experiments overseen by Dr. Judah Folkman, a cancer researcher who died in January. Folkman pioneered the idea of angiogenesis therapy — starving tumors by preventing them from growing blood supplies.
Lodamin is an angiogenesis inhibitor that Folkman’s team has been working to perfect for 20 years. Writing in the journal Nature Biotechnology, his colleagues say they developed a formulation that works as a pill, without side-effects.
They have licensed it to SynDevRx, Inc, a privately held Cambridge, Massachusetts biotechnology company that has recruited several prominent cancer experts to its board.
Tests in mice showed it worked against a range of tumors, including breast cancer, neuroblastoma, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, brain tumors known as glioblastomas and uterine tumors.
It helped stop so-called primary tumors and also prevented their spread, Ofra Benny of Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School and colleagues reported.
“Using the oral route of administration, it first reaches the liver, making it especially efficient in preventing the development of liver metastasis in mice,” they wrote in their report. “Liver metastasis is very common in many tumor types and is often associated with a poor prognosis and survival rate,” they added.
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