Ohio ó An Akron physician is leading a national clinical
trial with the goal of improving survival rates for cervical
cancer patients worldwide.
Charles Kunos, medical director of radiation oncology at Summa
Akron City Hospital, is heading a National Cancer Institute
study to determine whether a compound called Triapine results
in a better chance for a cure when combined with the
traditional treatments of chemotherapy and radiation.
Hospital and several other institutions in Ohio, Florida,
Oklahoma and Texas are recruiting 73 patients with stage IB to
IVA cervical cancer or stage II to IVA vaginal cancer to
participate in the study.
working on the study with Case Western Reserve University in
Cleveland, where Kunos has an affiliation through his former
job at University Hospitals.
small-scale studies have shown evidence that adding Triapine
to the standard treatment protocol for cervical cancer
increases the tumor response rate from 70 percent to 96
percent, said Kunos, principal investigator for the study.
general, cervical cancer is a very treatable disease and a
curable disease," he said. "Seventy percent is good,
but thereís obviously room for improvement."
is believed to work by making the tumor cells more sensitive
to radiation therapy, according to a summary of the study from
the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
drug inhibits a specific enzyme in cervical cancer cells which
is responsible for creating the building blocks of DNA,"
Kunos said. "It blocks the production of those building
blocks. When cancer cells are injured by radiation therapy and
chemotherapy, the cells donít have the ability to create new
building blocks to repair that damage so they die off."
initially was designed as a stand-alone treatment, Kunos said.
However, "as a cancer therapy by itself, it has not
proven to be effective."
who get the experimental treatment are randomly selected; they
receive Triapine through an IV three times a week along with
their radiation therapy.
participants receive radiation therapy and a chemotherapy
called cisplatin ó the standard treatments for cervical
effects appear to be rare with Triapine, Kunos said. At much
higher levels, the drug can cause shortness of breath and a
slight blueness of the skin in patients.
Stevens, 56, of North Canton was among the first patients to
participate in the clinical trial after she was diagnosed with
advanced cervical cancer in March.
of the position of her tumor near her kidney, it couldnít be
completely removed with surgery.
received 31 external radiation treatments and five internal
radiation treatments, along with five weeks of chemotherapy
the new drug, there was absolutely no side effects," she
no signs of cancer and said sheís hopeful her follow-up PET
scan in September will be all clear.
Kunos seems extremely positive with what heís not
seeing," she said.
a professor of criminal justice at the University of Mount
Union, said she didnít hesitate to participate in the
it helps somebody else and this is going to be the
up-and-coming thing, itís worth it," she said.
"Not only will it help me, it will help, hopefully,
generations of women down the road."
underway to develop an oral version of Triapine, which would
be particularly beneficial in other parts of the world where
advanced cases of cervical cancer are more common, Kunos said.
The drug also potentially could be used to treat head and neck
cancers in the future.
cancer is the second most common cancer in females worldwide,
with an estimated 500,000 new cases annually. About 12,000 new
cases are diagnosed annually in the United States, where
cervical cancer screenings have helped greatly improve
biopharmaceutical company Nanotherapeutics is collaborating
with the National Cancer Institute on the development of
the compound is off patent, "the drug is going to be
relatively inexpensive," Kunos said.