Baylor Researcher Develops New Anti-Cancer Drug

May 6, 2003
News Photo 1349Dr. Kevin G. Pinney,associate professor of chemistry and researcher in Baylor's Center for Drug Discovery

by Judy Long

Dr. Kevin G. Pinney, associate professor of chemistry at Baylor University, his research team and OXiGENE Inc., Pinney's corporate sponsor, have announced the development of a new tumor-starving compound, a significant step forward in the quest for a cancer-eradicating agent.

The new OXi8007, distinct from the combretastatin family of drugs OXiGENE has focused on in the past, has a patent pending. Another of Pinney's compounds, OXi6197, a combretastatin anti-cancer drug, was selected last February for preclinical testing at the National Cancer Institute.

Pinney will present his findings and their impact on cancer therapies during the International Tumor Microenvironment Workshop May 5 in Miami Beach, Fla.

OXiGENE Inc., an international biopharmaceutical company in Watertown, Mass., focuses on vascular targeting research and has three other patented compounds in various stages of testing. Vascular targeting is designed to treat cancer by blocking the flow of blood to solid cancer tumors and other abnormal blood vessels while leaving healthy cells intact. It does this by affecting the newly formed blood vessels and not harming mature vessels feeding healthy cells. Although OXi8007 is an entirely new compound, it is a vascular targeting agent.

Pinney and his team of more than 20 scientists--including graduate and undergraduate students--conduct their research in Baylor's Center for Drug Discovery (CDD), an interdisciplinary endeavor of the departments of chemistry and biochemistry, biology, and psychology and neuroscience at Baylor.

Dr. Truell Hyde, vice-provost for research, said Baylor is proud of Pinney's commitment to cancer research. "Kevin Pinney and the CDD are continuing to move forward in the critical field of vascular targeting, which has great potential to impact the lives of future cancer patients," he added.

Baylor holds a variety of issued patents and has patents pending for vascular targeting drugs which Pinney and his team developed, but OXi8007 is a completely new molecule, Pinney said.

"The vascular shutdown induced by administration of OXi8007 resulted in extensive tumor cell death 24 hours following treatment, which translated into a significant effect on tumor growth," Pinney said.

The vascular effects of OXi8007 were evaluated in tumors implanted in SCID (severe combined immunodeficient) mice and in normal tissue. At a dose of 100 mg/kg, the compound triggered a more than 95 percent reduction in tumor blood flow. At doses above 250 mg/kg, tumor growth was completely repressed, he added.

"Identification of OXi8007 as a lead preclinical development candidate from another novel series of compounds underscores our successful drug discovery initiatives," said Fred Driscoll, OXiGENE's president and CEO. "Although the compound is at an early stage of development, we are encouraged by the fact that, thus far, OXi8007 has exhibited a wide therapeutic window and an absence of toxicity, even at high doses."

Pinney's new compound differs in the basic core chemical structure from combretastatin A4-P, OXiGENE's lead vascular targeting agent in human clinical development, formulated by Arizona State University chemistry professor George R. Pettit.

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