Cancer Drug Developed at UNSW

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Monday, 30 October, 2000


Researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have invented a cancer drug that starves tumours instead of poisoning them.

Melbourne pharmaceutical company IDT Australia will manufacture the drug. Unisearch, the commercialisation arm of the UNSW, is developing glutathionarsenoxide (GSAO) in partnership.

The drug works to starve solid tumours like breast, colon and lung cancers. This contrasts with conventional cytotoxic drugs, which poison cancer cells and can cause side effects such as nausea and hair loss. Since GSAO is not a cell-killing chemical, it is likely to be safer and more easily tolerated by patients, researchers predict.

GSAO also has potential as an HIV drug. The molecule works to prevent the virus from entering cells in the first place.

Unisearch hopes to start clinical trials with 20 to 30 volunteer cancer patients in 2001 to prove the drug's effectiveness. Further trials with cancer and HIV patients will follow, depending on results. As only a few grams of GSAO exist, the first task is to make kilogram quantities.

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