Lack of funding stalls UOW's cancer drug

University of Wollongong researchers have developed a new cancer treatment that is ready for human testing, but are frustrated by the lack of support for a clinical trial.The drug Fluorodex can reduce painful side effects of cancer treatment, particularly for colon cancer patients, making treatment more effective and potentially saving lives.The university announced yesterday Fluorodex had received patent rights from the European Patent Office, but co-inventor and Wollongong oncologist Professor Philip Clingan said research into the drug could not progress until it was tested in a clinical trial.He would like to see the trial happen in Wollongong so it can benefit his patients.‘‘I have a lot of patients who have volunteered money and time over the years to help develop this drug and some of them unfortunately have advanced cancer and would like to have a try of this drug when everything else fails, and I can’t even offer it to them because we haven’t done a phase one [trial].’’ UOW Pro Vice-Chancellor (Health) Professor Don Iverson, shared Prof Clingan’s frustrations but said there was nothing more the university could do to further a trial until a drug company, government body or individual agreed to sponsor it.He said a small trial would cost up to $1.25million and the money needed to be secured before the university could decide whether the trial could be held in Wollongong.Prof Iverson said the university’s commercialisation arm had approached drug companies to fund a clinical trial, but the global financial crisis had made them reluctant to invest.‘‘This particular drug works best for metastatic colon cancer, an area we don’t have a lot of options for, so in a sense it should be a very good investment,’’ he said. ‘‘But certainly the drug companies - who have all been approached, big and small - have not stepped up to the plate because they’re making other economic decisions.’’

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