Osaka-based Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma (DSP) will start its first series of clinical trials in Japan on anti-cancer drugs that target highly malignant cancer stem cells, local press reported on Thursday.
The pharmaceutical company plans to submit clinical trial applications to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare within months to further develop treatments for cancer patients, said the country’s public broadcaster Nippon Hoso Kyokai (NHK).
The Osaka-based company said the trial of molecular oral drugs, BBI608 and BBI503, which have been developed by a research team at Boston Biomedical Inc. (BBI), will start within months at Japanese medical institutions. Meanwhile, the Phase III clinical trial for BBI 608 will soon commence in North American hospitals. The compounds are expected to cause an anti-tumor effect in cancer stem cells.
Currently, there are no successful anti-cancer drugs, but DSP’ s spokesperson told Xinhua that BBI608 and BBI503 are likely to become the first anti-cancer drugs in the world targeting cancer stem cells, adding that the company aims to commercialize the drugs in 2015 in the United States, to be followed later by Japan.
Researchers at the RIKEN Research Centre for Allergy and Immunology revealed they have succeeded for the first time in creating cancer-specific, immune system cells called killer T lymphocytes, the Daily Mail said.
To create these, the team first had to reprogramme T lymphocytes specialized in killing a certain type of cancer, into another type of cell called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells). These iPS cells then generated fully active, cancer-specific T lymphocytes. These lymphocytes regenerated from iPS cells could potentially serve as cancer therapy in the future, researchers believe.
Previous research has shown that killer T lymphocytes produced in the lab using conventional methods are inefficient in killing cancer cells mainly because they have a very short life-span, which limits their use as treatment for cancer.
Stem cell technology may one day give new life to tired immune cells so they can battle diseases such as HIV and cancer more effectively, two new studies suggest.
Scientists in Japan used old immune T-cells and regenerated them into T-cells that multiplied in greater numbers, had longer lifespans and showed a greater ability to target diseased cells. The finding could lead to more effective immune therapies, the researchers said.
Both reports were published in the Jan. 4 issue of the journal Cell Stem Cell.
“The system we established provides ‘young and active’ T-cells for adoptive immunotherapy against viral infection or cancers,” study senior author Dr. Hiromitsu Nakauchi, of the University of Tokyo, said in a journal news release.
A Kyoto University team has developed a method to efficiently generate induced pluripotent stem cells that is less likely to lead to tumor development than the conventional method.
iPS cells are able to transform into the cells of any organ.
The new research, representing a step forward in putting iPS cells into practical use in regenerative medicine, was reported in the online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of the United States of America on Tuesday.
Generally, iPS cells are produced by introducing four types of genes into skin and other cells. However, one of the genes, c-Myc, can cause cancer.