RCF Supports Innovative, Targeted Approach to Cancer Drugs

There is much in the news these days announcing innovative, less-toxic cancer therapies which bring great hope to many. Most of these new drugs, however, are for the larger cancer populations such as: colon, lung, breast and leukemias.

Unfortunately, pediatric and young adult cancer populations are the last to see breakthroughs, due to smaller populations and rarer cancers. Still-over 15,000 young children under the age 15, and 70,000 young adults age 15-39, will be diagnosed with cancer every year, which is why RCF exists.

With little change in survival rates for over 35 years, it is time that  less toxic, more curative therapies are offered to this cancer population. Thankfully, non-profit charities like RCF are making that a reality. In just 9 years we have supported 7 emerging therapies with 5 of them in current clinical trials. 

Our most exciting work to date is that of a “smart bomb” approach to attacking cancer cells. By hiding the potent drug in a “Trojan Horse” that bypasses healthy tissue and goes directly to the cancer cells, our hope is to develop a more effective, safe and direct attack on cancer cells. Currently many of the drugs used cause both serious short and long term heart toxicity. The drug we are currently developing can be used in many different cancers and is designed to protect the heart and other vital organs. 

The development of less cardiotoxic anthracycline chemotherapies is one avenue by which the long-term quality of life can be improved in survivors of childhood and adolescent cancer.  Pilot studies in mice, in which anthracycline chemotherapies are encapsulated in the novel nanoparticle Myr5a, indicate this delivery strategy vastly reduces cardiotoxicity.

Dr. Gregory Aune, Greehey Cancer Research Institute, UT San Antonio