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April 20, 2005

FDA puts Ariad drug for cancer on fast track

Topics: Pre-clinical research

Sarcomas are cancers that attack bones or soft tissues and affect about 100,000 patients in the United States, with 12,000 cases diagnosed yearly.

Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Cambridge said the Food and Drug Administration gave fast-track designation to an experimental drug for sarcomas, a group of aggressive cancers for which there are few treatment options.

One of the reasons for the FDA’s attention to the new treatment is that sarcoma tumors often don't generate any symptoms until they are extremely advanced or until the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. That makes such cancers particularly deadly. Ariad said fewer than 15 percent of patients who are diagnosed when the cancers have spread survive for five years.

The drug developed by Ariad blocks proteins that instruct tumor cells to absorb nutrients, grow, and cultivate a robust blood supply.

"The cell starves itself, when normally it would gobble up nutrients at high rates," Berger (an Ariad executive) said. Blocking the protein also interferes with the tumor's signals that cause blood vessels to grow, ultimately starving the tumor. "You take away the food, the blood supply, and the stimulants."

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Posted by Richard at April 20, 2005 6:46 PM


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