This month, Kimmel Cancer Center director William Nelson reviewed top stories in cancer research ranging from a partnership between a pharmaceutical company and a major academic health center, to new ways to deliver the drug Herceptin.

First, he discusses the recent partnership between pharmaceutical company, Novartis, and an academic health center, the University of Pennsylvania. Nelson says by bringing together academic centers that conduct research with pharmaceutical companies that turn drug treatments into products approved by regulatory agencies, helps expand potential. He also suggests we must structure these partnerships carefully to avoid corruption or conflicts of interest in bringing these two industries closer.

Next, Nelson describes a recent study that examines grapefruit juice and its ability to lower dosage for some chemotherapies. Nelson says that grapefruit and other related fruits contain inhibitors of drug breakdown.  For instance, the drug rapamycin, used to treat graft rejection in certain cancers, isn’t as effective as it could be because the drug metabolizes or breaks down quickly.  The study uses grapefruit juice to slow the breakdown of rapamycin, helping to make the drug more efficient.

Also in the podcast, he reviews a study from Johns Hopkins regarding prostate cancer and possible new treatments.  Researchers have created and built a nanoparticle treatment that targets prostate cancer antigens.   These targeted nanoparticles have two strategic functions of therapeutics and diagnostics, calling the treatment “theranostic”. The next step for this research will be clinical trials.

Finally, Nelson discusses a gentler way to deliver Herceptin, the antibody drug used to treat women with breast cancer. The drug can now be given in an injection through the skin, rather than intravenously. This new approach appears to be just as effective and easier to administer at home or other places. Nelson predicts we could see more of these improvements as well as delivering cancer drugs by pill in the future.

Program Notes:

0:30 Novartis and University of Pennsylvania partnership
1:24 Gene transfer to kill CLL cells
2:22 More of these types of partnerships?
3:11 Grapefruit juice reduces dosage of chemo drugs?
4:12 Can help slow down metabolism of rapamycin
5:21 Combining two strategies to attack prostate cancer
6:17 A ‘theranostic’
7:01 Kinder gentler way to deliver Herceptin
8:01 Appears to be just as effective as IV mode
9:20 End

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