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Local company pioneers cancer treatment

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Published on: Thursday, January 03, 2013

By Daryl Buchanan

ROCKVILLE-A company in partnership with AstraZeneca could be on the verge of a new treatment for cancer that can change the way the disease is looked at and handled.

CytImmune has been in Rockville since 2002 and have been working on a form of cancer treatment in the form of microscopic gold nano technology particles. Lawrence Tamarkin, President and CEO of CytImmune, says the gold nano particles have been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis since the 1950s. CytImmune has been working on Nano tech research since 2005.

The nano particle treatment is called CYT-6091 and according to Tamarkin after a number of tests it was found that the particles attack hard tumors within the body and not healthy tissue. Tumors use leaky blood vessels to continue to grow and CYT-6091 acts as vascular disrupting agent by destroying these blood vessels and slowing the growth of cancerous tumors.

“This is an excellent opportunity to work with AstraZeneca on what could become a milestone achievement in cancer research and treatment. This is the first time a large pharmaceutical company has embarked on research and development for a cancer treatment on a nano based platform,” said Tamarkin.

CYT-6091 can be combined with chemotherapy as it weakens the tumor and allows chemotherapy treatments to be more effective at destroying tumors. CYT-6091 is administered intravenously and Tamarakin says the ruby red colored solution is safe for children and after a few months the particles travel to the liver and are passed naturally out of the body.

“We can treat multiple times if necessary so we don’t need to limit the dosage. In fact someone could be treated for 20 or 30 years if needed. There are no complications after treatment aside from a little malaise. The major thing with this new treatment is that it can change the way cancer is viewed,” said Tamarakin.

“If we begin to think of cancer as a chronic disease like diabetes or HIV and treat it as such people can continue to live long and healthy lives. The CYT-6091 treatment could also reduce time spent in hospitals, surgeries, and more importantly lower health care costs. It’s really exciting to know we have potential to change outcomes of cancer diagnosis and also improve quality of life for people with cancer or being treated for cancer.”

Tamarakin says after a treatment a patient would need further checkups with their doctors to evaluate the state of the tumor.

CYT-6091 is currently ready for phase two testing in the second quarter of 2013. CytImmune is planning more tests on lung and pancreatic cancer patients in the Bronx later this year. Depending on the outcome of those tests it could be another three to five years before it hits the market. It could be another five or seven years before the AstraZeneca medicine is approved for the market.

“If this is successful it can change the way think about cancer. This is not a cure but this could be a big step in the right direction of improving the lives of cancer patients. We need to encourage more enthusiasm and investment in therapies like this,” said Tamarakin.

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