AUTHOR: Larry Tamarkin, CEO CytImmune Sciences
How many cancer patients and their families are told, “you’re cured,” only to later hear “your cancer is back?” I’ve known more than I care to count. Hearing the words “the surgery was successful,” or “there is no sign of your tumor,” is like entering the eye of a hurricane. The sun may be shining, but you know the worst of the storm may be yet to come. The anxiety and fear that cancer will recur, along with the battle scars from chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, often leave cancer patients physically and mentally exhausted.
To make matters worse, there is currently nothing you or your doctor can do to prevent your cancer from returning. And if it does come back, there is a high probability that the diagnosis will be metastatic cancer. That’s the diagnosis every cancer patient fears most. Metastatic cancer is the hardest kind of cancer to treat. I believe the best course of action is to prevent it.
As the CEO of CytImmune Sciences, I have seen the potential of nanomedicines to revolutionize not just how we treat cancer, but how we approach the treatment of cancer patients. Our nanomedicine technology was designed to provide a treatment mechanism to get ahead of cancer, to put the patient back in control of their disease. In a typical cancer patient’s experience, the primary tumor is removed by surgery, and the patient undergoes chemo/radiation therapy. If successful, treatment stops, and the patient begins the game of wait-see-and-hope.
Rather than waiting and hoping, I believe we should treat every cancer like it might be a metastatic cancer. If we adopt this approach to our research, funding and treatment of cancer, not only will future patients benefit, but so will patients currently battling metastatic cancer.
CytImmune’s Solution: Metastatic Cancer Prophylaxis
After reduction and/or removal of a patient’s primary tumor, the patient should immediately begin treatment with a tumor-suppression agent that is effective, but which does not significantly harm the patient’s quality of life. CytImmune’s nanomedicine, CYT-6091, was created to make this possibility a reality. All solid tumors are fed by leaky blood vessels. These blood vessels have small holes that allow fluid, but not blood cells to pour into the tumor. CYT-6091 takes advantage of these leaky blood vessels to deliver the most potent tumor vascular-disrupting agent known to science, tumor necrosis factor (TNF). This allows CYT-6091 to attack tumors anywhere in the body. These tumors might otherwise grow undetected for years. With CYT-6091, I believe it will become possible to treat metastatic cancer long before we see it.
How does it work?
Periodically administering CYT-6091 could destroy the leaky blood vessels that feed new tumors, preventing the tumors from growing. Even micro-metastases (tiny tumors) as small as a grain of sand (1 mm3) have leaky blood vessels. Using CYT-6091 would destroy these blood vessels preventing the tumors from growing, and ensuring that the patient would never have to hear the words, “your cancer is back.”
Moreover, these leaky blood vessels are present in all solid tumors, regardless of tumor origin (breast, pancreas, lung, etc.). They are a byproduct of tumor growth and one of the primary reasons that many existing cancer therapies fail or perform below expectations. Leaky blood vessels allow the pressure inside even a tiny tumor to be greater than its surrounding tissues or organs. The increase in pressure is the reason systemically administered cancer therapies cannot reach and kill cancer cells.
Prophylactically treating with CYT-6091, even in the absence of detectable metastatic cancer, could allow patients to live with cancer as a chronic, manageable disease.
Patients who have already have Metastatic Cancer
CYT-6091 may also benefit patients who have already developed metastatic cancer. This nanotecnology delivers TNF to all solid tumors, destroying each tumor’s blood vessel network (devascularization) without causing the collateral damage associated with many systemically administered therapies. Devascularization reduces the tumor’s internal pressure, which is a tumor’s natural mechanism for preventing cancer-killing therapies from reaching the cancer cells deep inside. Human and animal studies have consistently shown that destroying these blood vessels and reducing internal tumor pressure makes systemically administered chemotherapy significantly more effective. Because CYT-6091 works on any solid tumor (primary or secondary) anywhere in the body, and because it targets growing tumors while leaving healthy tissues unharmed, I believe using CYT-6091 could dramatically improve outcomes for patients already diagnosed with metastatic cancer.
Cancer patients deserve a better outcome and an opportunity to take control of their disease. For most cancer patients, control means proactively preventing recurrence. For metastatic cancer patients, control means converting their cancer into a chronic, manageable illness. The solution starts by treating all cancers as metastatic cancers, and then designing therapies to solve that problem.
To learn more about CYT-6091 and CytImmune, please visit our website. If you have questions, contact us via Twitter @CytImmune or leave a comment below.
**CYT-6091 is not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration.