Experimental ovarian cancer drug moves forward

Woman with DoctorThe United States reports a whopping 20,000 new cases of ovarian cancer each year. It comes as no surprise that it’s become the leading cause of death among gynecological cancers. A combination of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation are the most common approaches to treatment, depending on the stage of the cancer. If it has progressed to an advanced level, the prognosis can be grim. Drug company Cerulean Pharma hopes to give ovarian cancer patients another option with an investigational drug called CRLX101. “CRLX101 is an experimental cancer medicine that targets tumors and delivers an extremely potent chemotherapy payload to tumor cells while largely sparing the rest of the body from the harsh side effects commonly associated with chemotherapy,” said Dr. Edward Garmey, Cerulean’s chief medical officer. According to Garmey, this nanopharmaceutical is small enough to pass through the large pores found in tumor blood vessels. Once there, it gradually releases its tumor-killing payload over time. Results from a phase one clinical trial were encouraging. Among women with advanced ovarian cancer, some who received six cycles of therapy showed no cancer progression. “If approved, CRLX101 would represent a new treatment option that offers the potential for extended survival and improved quality of life,” said Garmey. Ovarian cancer affects the ovaries, which produce eggs and hormones. The disease typically affects women over the age of 63. The usual treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapies and radiation. A specific cause remains unknown, and the symptoms often mirror those of other common health conditions.  By Marianne Hayes

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