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Pro-Test: standing up for science
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Archives for: July 2008

22/07/08

Permalink 05:16:31 pm, by Tom, 433 words, 2540 views   English (UK)
Categories: Information

A promising start for new prostate cancer drug

On the morning after the Home Office released the statistics for animal use in medical research for 2007 I looked through the broadsheets to see what they had to say about them. As it happens the papers had very little, in some cases nothing, to say about the figures,just a few short reports in a couple of papers describing the key numbers and the predictable outrage of the anti-vivisectionists. What all the papers do seem excited about is the news that a new drug designed to combat prostate cancer has performed well in early clinical trials.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/men/article4375429.ece
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/jul/22/health.cancer
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-wellbeing/health-news/prostate-cancer-drug-gives-hope-to-untreatable-patients-873746.html
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7502238.stm

Though it's perhaps a little soon to pop open the champagne bottles the papers are right to welcome this development, aggressive prostate cancer is responsible for about 12% of all male cancer related deaths and current treatments are of limited effectiveness. Abiraterone, developed by the London based Institute of Cancer Research and Cougar Biotechnology, may be a great advance over current treatments for aggressive metastatic prostate cancer. It works by blocking the activity of an enzyme called CYP450c17 that is required for the body to make the hormone testosterone, and since prostate cancer cells require testosterone to grow blocking testosterone production can slow or even stop the cancer from growing and spreading.

During the development of abiraterone animal research played a vital role alongside equally crucial in vitro studies. Development of the drug began when studies undertaken in rats identified esters of 4-pyridylacetic acid as inhibitors of the hydroxylase and lyase activities of CYP450c17. These were the lead compounds that lead directly development of abiraterone (1). Subsequently the ability of different derivatives of these lead compounds to specifically block the activity of human CYP450c17 was assessed in vitro, and their ability to resist breakdown and deliver the active drug to where it was needed was assessed in rodents (2). On the basis of these studies, and subsequent testing of the most promising candidate drugs for toxic side effects in rodents, abiraterone was selected for human clinical trials, where it has had the promising results reported today.

Cheers

Paul

1) McCague R et al. "Inhibition of enzymes of estrogen and androgen biosynthesis by esters of 4-pyridylacetic acid." J. Med Chem. Volume 33(11), Pages 3050-3055 (1990).
2) Attard G et al. "Selective blockade of androgenic steroid synthesis by novel lyase inhibitors as a therapeutic strategy for treating metastatic prostate cancer." BJU Int. Volume 96(9):1241-1246 (2005).

21/07/08

Permalink 05:15:42 pm, by Tom, 321 words, 5566 views   English (UK)
Categories: News

Pro-Test welcomes statistics on animal research in 2007

Today the Home Office has released the figures for all animal research done
in the UK in 2007. The total number of procedures carried out on animals
has risen from 3.01 million in 2006, to 3.2 million in 2007 - although the
total number of animals used is slightly less than this, since in certain cases an animal may be used for more than one procedure.

The rise has been primarily due to a 5% increase in the number of procedures carried out on GM animals, mainly mice. GM (genetically modified) animals can offer better animal models for human diseases, allowing scientists better opportunities to study and cure serious genetic diseases such as sickle cell disease and cystic fibrosis.

The importance of GM mice to medical research was recognized by the awarding of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Prof. Mario Capecchi, Sir Martin Evans and Prof. Oliver Smithies for their pioneering work on gene targeting in mice.

The number of procedures on non-human primates has fallen to 4,000, a 6% drop from 2006. This decrease is due in part to the replacement of primates by GM rodents in some areas of research. Dogs, cats, horses and non-human primates together now account for less than 0.5% of animal research in the UK.

These figures demonstrate that the scientists in the UK continue to be at the forefront of 21st century medical research.

Pro-Test Spokesman, Iain Simpson:
“We view the increase in the use of transgenic animals used as especially positive as it shows that academics are continuing to use innovative new methods to find cures for life threatening diseases such as cystic fibrosis and Duchenne muscular dystrophy”.

---
1. Home Office Press Release, 21/07/08
http://press.homeoffice.gov.uk/press-releases/Animal-Research

2. The full Home office statistical report can be found here:
http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs08/spanimals07.pdf

3. Contacts: Pro-Test Press Office
E-mail: media@pro-test.org.uk
Iain Simpson, 07960180033
Kevin Elliot, 07970982789
Web: http://www.pro-test.org.uk

Regards

Tom

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