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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Medical breakthrough! Help for chemo side effects

By Bob Unruh
© 2009 WorldNetDaily

Logo for Pro-Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

A research and development company has announced a new treatment for cancer patients that has been shown in trials to reduce dramatically the hardship from side effects of chemotherapy, allowing a more normal life while the body engages cancer in a war.

Officials for Pro-Pharmaceuticals Inc. told WND that some patients given their Davanat product have seen significant improvements even during treatments that otherwise had been marred by side effects such as weakness, mucositis, low blood counts and other typical secondary problems.

"Our goal is to improve the clinical benefit for patients by extending their survival, improving their quality of life and reducing the rising costs of health care. The data from the cancer patients in our clinical trials indicates Davanat improves efficacy and reduces the side effects associated with chemotherapy regimens," company CEO Theodore Zucconi said in a recent statement about a clinical trials update.

George Macricostas, a businessman and company investor, told WND his wife benefitted greatly from the treatment before she eventually succumbed to cancer last year.

Macricostas, whose financial involvement with the company started before his wife began treatments with Davanat and expanded later, said she had had difficulties with traditional chemotherapy treatments because they caused her blood count to plummet.

She discontinued a low dose of chemotherapy in late 2007 because her blood work was so bad, he reported.

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Another attempt at the treatment was begun in February 2008, but after two days at a 20 percent dose of the Insulin Potentiated Therapy his wife, Beth, needed two units of blood.

Then permission was obtained to use the Davanat in combination with chemo, and he reported on the sudden change.

"Beth did not need any more blood transfusions after March 2008, and she was able to discontinue her Procrit shots in June 2008, as her body was able to tolerate the treatment thanks to the Davanat protecting her health cells," he said in a report.

She also was able to discontinue use of painkillers, and even though one tumor had caused a hairline fracture in her hip socket, creating considerable pain and requiring her to use a walker, the fracture healed. She was able to walk without even a cane within weeks of beginning the treatment.

The hospital bed was returned to the rental company, and "Beth was able to take Advil for slight pain and discomfort," Macricostas reported.

She even drove to go shopping and to visit relatives 120 miles away, he said.

Beth eventually succumbed to a new cancer in her liver that had been undetected earlier, he said.

The company says Davanat works by using carbohydrates to bind to lectins on tumor cells, but not lectins on surrounding healthy tissue, and carry with it the lethal chemicals that attack the cancer in chemotherapy.

"Proteins on the surface of all cells, including cancer cells, are able to attach to certain kinds of carbohydrates. These carbohydrate receptors, known technically as 'lectins,' are very specific: a given lectin will bind only a particular kind of carbohydrate," the company explains.

"Davanat is formulated to attach to lectins on tumor cells rather than the lectins on surrounding healthy tissue," it says.

Since 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted permission for some patients to use the investigational drug under special cases.

Macricostas told WND as a result of the chemotherapy treatment, possible because of the minimization of the side effects, he and his wife saw "the scans all going in the right directions. … Anything visible was shrinking, a number of them had disappeared completely."

In a company announcement just days ago, Pro-Pharmaceuticals said a review of data from Phase One and Two clinical trials revealed no mucositis or serious adverse events from among 100 patients treated with Davanat in combination with chemo.

Up to 40 percent of cancer patients being treated with the 5-FU type of chemotherapy get the side effect, which is characterized by intestinal tissue destruction throughout the GI tract, including painful mouth ulcerations and severe gastrointestinal symptoms interfering with nutrition and treatment.

Since there are no currently effective treatments, patients suffering debilitating mouth sores may need morphine or other narcotics to deal with it.

But with Davanat, there were no "events," even in patients with more than 100 cycles of treatments with 5-FU and Davanat.

A statement a month earlier from the company said a trial revealed that the combination of treatments for end-stage colorectal cancer patients extended median survival by 29 weeks after all other treatments were exhausted.

Board chairman Jim Czirr told WND the basic procedure of the treatment puts more of the treatment chemicals in the tumor and less in the liver, kidney or lungs.

"The incredible irony here is after keeping a hideously toxic chemical in a patient's blood three times longer, there are huge decreases in side effects," he said.

Dr. Peter Traber, president emeritus of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told WND he joined the board of Pro-Pharmaceuticals only recently, at least partly because of the potential he sees for the treatment.

Since chemo treatments address rapidly dividing cells, they frequently attack the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, which is lined with the cells. The result is side effects ranging from mouth sores to nausea to vomiting and diarrhea.

"It's a significant problem in cancer patients," he told WND. "There's a lot of discomfort."

A treatment that reduces the impact on the GI tract, he said, "can be very beneficial with more chemo targeting the cancer while protecting the tissues."

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Bob Unruh is a news editor for

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