START Center Seeing Progress in Tests on Gastrointestinal Cancer Drug

San Antonio's START Center for Cancer Care, which is one of the country's leading research and testing facilities for cutting edge cancer drugs, presented at an international oncologists conference in Ireland on a new Phase-1 study showing promise in a new treatment for gastrointestinal cancer, one of the most stubborn and painful types of cancer, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Dr. Murali Beeram told 1200 WOAI news from Dublin that this is an area which is badly in need of research.

"The treatments that exist right now are sub-optimum to take care of this disease," he said.

START has been testing an experimental antibody called ZW25, which attacks the substance called HER-2, which has also been linked to breast cancer.  But Dr. Beeram says while treatments to fight back against cancer formation in HER-2 in breast cancer patients have been successful, similar treatments have not been found to reduce the spread of gastrointestinal or esophogeal cancer.

He says there has been success seen with ZW25.

"Patients, despite having had other treatments and failed at other treatments, still seem to derive benefit and respond to this drug," he said.

Dr. Beeram said there was support shown among other oncologists at the conference for the results of the START tests on ZW25

.He says the FDA has granted what is called 'Orphan Drug' status to ZW25, thanks to START's studies. 

Orphan Drug designation allows continued research on drugs which are designated to treat rare diseases of rare forms of diseases.

START has led clinical trials on some of the most promising cancer treatments in recent years, most notably to the drug Keytruda, which has been approved for use by the FDA and has emerged as the key treatment option for people who suffer from certain types of melanoma.

PHOTO: Dr. Beeram presenting in Ireland.  Courtesy:  START Cnter

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