Cancer-killing pill that ‘annihilates’ tumours tested on humans


A “cancer-killing pill” could offer hope to thousands of patients after studies found it appeared to “annihilate” solid tumours leaving healthy cells unaffected.

The new drug has been in development for the last 20 years and is now undergoing pre-clinical research in the US.

The discovery was made during early research, with the drug targeting a cancerous variant of a protein called proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA).

Known as AOH1996, the drug is being worked on by the City of Hope – one of America’s largest cancer research and treatment organisations.

In its mutated form, PCNA is “critical” in the replication of DNA, and the repair of all “expanding tumours”.

Professor Linda Malkas, who has been developing the drug, said: “PCNA is like a major airline terminal hub containing multiple plane gates.

“Data suggests PCNA is uniquely altered in cancer cells, and this fact allowed us to design a drug that targeted only the form of PCNA in cancer cells.

“Our cancer-killing pill is like a snowstorm that closes a key airline hub, shutting down all flights in and out only in planes carrying cancer cells.”

Despite initial results appearing optimistic, the research has so far concluded that AOH1996 can suppress tumour growth in cell and animal models – meaning the next step will be to start a clinical trial on humans.

The pill has been shown to be effective in treating cells derived from breast, prostate, brain, ovarian, cervical, skin and lung cancers.

PCNA had previously been labelled as “undruggable” – and it is hoped the breakthrough could lead to more personalised, targeted medicines for cancer in the future.

Dr Malkas added: “Results have been promising. AOH1996 can suppress tumor growth as a monotherapy or combination treatment in cell and animal models without resulting in toxicity.

“The investigational chemotherapeutic is currently in a Phase 1 clinical trial in humans at City of Hope.”

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