The drug works by reducing the flow of blood to tumours and potentially starving them of the blood supply that they need to survive.
The Phase I clinical trial of the drug called L-NNA is taking place at the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre in North-West London – recruiting up to 40 patients with advanced solid tumours that have spread.
The drug blocks a protein called nitric oxide synthase (NOS), which constricts the vessels supplying blood to cancers and may also prevent the growth of new blood vessels. Blocking this protein may reduce the delivery of nutrients via blood vessels to cancer cells, impeding their growth and division.
The trial will find out if this drug will be useful in treating cancer patients in the future by establishing the correct drug dose that should be used. The patients will also provide tissue samples so scientists can determine what happens to L-NNA inside the body.
Chief investigator, Professor Peter Hoskin, at the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre, said: “All cancers rely on the delivery of vital nutrients and oxygen through blood vessels – without a blood supply, a tumour can’t grow beyond the size of a pin head.
“Scientists across the world are looking for ways to prevent cancer cells from receiving the supplies they depend on to grow and divide. It’s very exciting to launch this trial of a new drug which in the future may provide a new approach to treat a wide range of cancers.”
This latest trial is being funded and managed by the charity’s Drug Development Office (DDO).
Dr Nigel Blackburn, director of drug development at Cancer Research UK’s DDO, said: “Our scientists are at the forefront of research to find new ways to reduce and block the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to tumour cells.
“These projects range from discovering the molecules that cause tumours to develop new blood vessels – through to the clinical testing of potential drugs.
“This is a promising area of research – there are already drugs available which can reduce the growth of blood vessels being used to treat people with certain types of cancer – and we’re looking forward to the early trial results of this new drug with great interest.”
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