Valuable Cancer Research Lost In Italian Earthquake

by Gopalan on  April 12, 2009 at 10:27 AM Cancer News   - G J E 4
Valuable Cancer Research Lost In Italian Earthquake
A major casualty of the last week's earthquake in Italy could be valuable research work done by a UK-based charity over the last two years.

Leukaemia Busters, Southampton, has been developing pioneering drugs in a clinic in the quake-hit city of L'Aquila.

Dr David Flavell, from the charity, said it was likely specially engineered leukaemia cells used to produce anti-bodies had been lost.

Antibodies normally defend us against infectious diseases, but Leukaemia Busters funded scientists engineer these to selectively attack leukaemia cells directly leaving other normal cells in the patients body untouched. This is unlike today's conventional chemotherapy where leukaemia cells and the patients normal cells are both damaged by the treatment, says the charity's website.

It seeks to arm the antibody with a powerful toxin turning it into a guided missile with a deadly warhead or by using the antibody to directly recruit the patients own natural defences to kill the leukaemia cell. Leukaemia Busters supported scientists have discovered that using both of these approaches in combination achieves a significantly better therapeutic effect.

Dr.Flavell said that some laboratory staff had been hurt in the quake, but no-one seriously.

The death toll from the quake has now risen to 278 with about 28,000 people left homeless around the stricken region.

Dr Flavell told BBC: "This is such a great humanitarian disaster; our hearts go to all those people affected.

We have worked with people in L'Aquila for getting on 10 years and done some important work.

"In the last two years we have been developing a particular engineered leukaemia cell that will allow us to produce anti-bodies for the treatment of patients.

"Sadly it looks possible we may have lost those engineered cells and with it a couple of years of work.

"It is not a complete disaster as we have got some of the material in Southampton but the plan now is to see what we can salvage and ship anything back."

Source: Medindia

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