Smile Politely

An anti-cancer agent first identified by U of I scientists is doing well in trials

Two men are standing next to each other. The man on the left is Asian, and is bald and wearing glasses and a suit and tie. The man on the left is white, with brown hair, and wearing a dark suit jacket and collared shirt.
Fred Zwicky; Institute for Genomic Biology

Several years ago, a team led by U of I chemistry professor Paul Hergenrother discovered that the compound PAC-1 could initiate “programmed cell death in cancer cells.” With the help of U of I professor of veterinary clinical medicine Dr. Timothy Fan, they conducted animal trials with pet dogs.

Fast forward to 2022, a Phase I human clinical trial showed promising results in patients with end-stage cancers. The drug “stalled the growth of tumors in the five people in the trial with neuroendocrine cancers and reduced tumor size in two of those patients.” The results of the study were published in the British Journal of Cancer in December.

Such a drug becoming approved is a long way off, but it’s a rather amazing start. You can read more about the drug, the trial, and next steps at the Institute for Genomic Biology website.

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