There are more than 100 cancer drugs available (link to list of drugs). Different chemotherapeutic agents work in different ways. Most of the anti-cancer drugs act by inhibiting DNA synthesis or some other processes which regulate the growth of the cancer cells. Chemotherapy acts by killing rapidly dividing cancer cells. However, they also affect normal (non-cancerous) cells. This can result in side-effects to the patients that include nausea, diarrhea, hair loss, loss of appetite, or mouth sores. Many side effects are temporary and can be controlled by medication. However, severe side effects, especially to normal cells of the intestine and bone marrow regions, can limit the effectiveness of certain drugs. Over time, cancer cells may acquire resistance to the effects of drugs, requiring a change in the type of chemotherapy used to treat the disease.
Since there are as many as 100 different types of cancer, the use of one drug to 'cure' cancer has proven elusive. For that reason, the use of 2 or possibly more chemotherapeutic agents administered at the same time is the common treatment regimen. Combination therapy usually consists of drugs that exert different toxic effects on the cancer cells, thereby increasing the overall effectiveness of the chemotherapeutic agents used. Personalized medicine will identify the best drugs to be used against an individual's specific type of cancer that will bring about tumor remission and increase overall survival.
Athenese is currently researching compounds that attack novel proteins that are critical in the cell cycle and have been shown to reduce tumor burden in animal models. We will be evaluating new compounds in combination with existing chemotherapeutic agents to determine their enhanced efficiency in killing tumor cells.
The development of new drugs which specifically target cancer cells and have little or no effect on normal cells, called targeted therapy, can increase the effectiveness of the drugs. Using this method should enhance the killing of cancer cells while reducing the drug's effects on normal cells. Athenese selection of targets is based on research that is “specific disease targeted” and we expect higher efficacious therapeutic results.