Helping Cancer Patients Take Their MedicineSource: Quadro Engineering Corp.
One of the cruel ironies of cancer is that, in order to be cured, you often have to eat poison. That’s because the drugs that kill cancer cells can also kill you. It all depends on the dosage. In dosages considered to be therapeutic, the drug obviously does not kill - but it can make you feel extremely ill, nauseous, and possibly regurgitate the ingested dose. Not only does vomiting make you feel awful, it lowers the amount of the drug in the blood stream, and makes treatment more difficult to administer because of the variable dose the patient receives. And that can lower your chances of receiving effective therapy.
When patients are in the hospital for treatment, they have enough on their minds without worrying about getting sick from the treatment that is supposed to make them well. That’s why a clinical study is now underway at Johns Hopkins Oncology Center (JHOC). The purpose of the study is to determine if a new method for delivering a cytotoxic drug is safe and effective — one that allows such drugs to be administered intravenously rather than orally, with far fewer side effects and much greater patient comfort. The breakthrough behind this new approach is the mixing technology embodied in the Microfluidizer® processor. Because of this technology, the drugs can be mixed with compounds that allow the drugs to circulate in the blood and more directly target the appropriate tissues with the goal of being more effective.
The drug being tested in a U.S. FDA approved Phase I Clinical Trial is called SpartajectTM Busulfan for Injectable Suspension— an injectable form of busulfan. Busulfan is a cytotoxic drug that has been approved for years to treat patients with a certain form of leukemia, and has been used “off label” to treat other diseases where the patient may require a bone marrow transplant. Busulfan’s job is to kill the patient’s own bone marrow cells so they can be replaced with healthy cells from a donor. Sparta Pharmaceuticals is the name of the Horsham (Pa.) company that is developing this new form of the drug and Chris Phillips is the company’s Director of Manufacturing.