The lead drug candidate of the Alfacell Corporation, Onconase®, is currently in clinical trials and has recently been touted as a potential chemo-preventive agent in the fight against malignant pleural mesothelioma. In January 2007, Onconase® received orphan drug status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Onconase® is a ribonuclease protein developed from the eggs of the leopard frog. The drug is designed to enhance the anti-cancer effects of traditional chemotherapy, allowing lower doses to be effective and producing fewer side effects. Even though the drug works more slowly than other chemo drugs, its lower toxicity levels mean no hair loss, anemia, nausea or other common side effects usually associated with standard chemotherapy drugs.
Onconase® is currently in Phase IIIb trials. Thus far, however, reports issued after Phase II trials have demonstrated that "the tumors either shrank or stopped growing in 41 of the 81 patients that were assessable for tumor response." The median survival of the more than 300 patients who entered the trial without symptoms from the cancer was 18.5 months.
In addition, the role of Onconase® as an early first-line preventative mesothelioma treatment (which is usually diagnosed in its late stages) could mean prolonged life for the millions of people exposed to asbestos during the last five decades.
Onconase® is also one of the first embryonic stem cell products to reach the final stages of testing.
Manufactured by Alfacell Corporation
- American Cancer Society, Inc. "Whats New in Malignant Mesothlioma Research and Treatment" http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_4_6X_Whats_new_in_malignant_mesothelioma_research_and_treatment_29.asp?sitearea=
- National Cancer Institute, Mesothelioma: Questions and Answers. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Sites-Types/mesothelioma
- University of Texas. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. http://www.cancerwise.org/october_2004/display.cfm?id=59C1CE29-620D-426E-88DDB2C3F3269327&method=displayFull&color=green
Last modified: December 24, 2010.