A new drug that attacks a variety of cancers by starving the tumors' blood supplies will be tested on humans for the first time in a new trial in the UK, it was announced Wednesday.
Scientists at the Mount Vernon Cancer Center, in London, plan to recruit 40 patients with advanced tumors for the Phase I trial of the drug, L-NNA, to establish the correct dose.
L-NNA works by blocking a protein called nitric oxide synthase (NOS), which constricts the vessels supplying blood to cancers and may also prevent the growth of new blood vessels.
Professor Peter Hoskin, from the center, said, "All cancers rely on the delivery of vital nutrients and oxygen through blood vessels—without a blood supply, a tumor can't grow beyond the size of a pin head."
He added, "Scientists across the world are looking for ways to prevent cancer cells from receiving the supplies they depend on to grow and divide. It's very exciting to launch this trial of a new drug, which in the future may provide a new approach to treat a wide range of cancers."
The trial will be funded by Cancer Research UK's Drug Development Office.
Dr. Nigel Blackburn, director of drug development at the charity, said, "This is a promising area of research—there are already drugs available which can reduce the growth of blood vessels being used to treat people with certain types of cancer—and we're looking forward to the early trial results of this new drug with great interest."