Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Chinese Cancer Therapy

The CTV has this interesting story about Gendicine, the world's first commercially approved gene therapy that is available in China. Here is a snippet from the story:

A revolutionary anti-tumour drug in China is attracting terminally ill cancer patients from around the world, including Canada.

The world's first "gene therapy" drug, named Gendicine, was officially licensed by the Chinese government in late 2003 after clinical trials found it noticeably improved the survival rate of patients with head and neck cancer, which are common in China.

Injected directly into the tumour, Gendicine is designed to destroy cancerous genes. The key ingredient is the p53 gene, described as a tumour-suppressing gene and which is mixed with a common virus.

....Experts openly question the Chinese government's willingness to approve new cancer drugs that are still in their experimental stages in North America.

As one Wall Street Journal article on Endostar noted: "The hurdles to getting Endostar approved for general use in the U.S. are high. It has only been tested in China, and it's not clear whether those trials meet U.S. and European standards. The results of the trials have yet to be published in any Western peer-reviewed medical journals. The exact mechanism by which Endostar inhibits tumors from building a blood supply is unknown."

The Genesis of Gendicine has an interview with the chairman and founder of Shenzhen SiBiono GeneTech.

World-wide there are over 1000 gene therapy clinical trials. See the useful charts here.

Here are some of the numbers of gene therapy trials by country:

USA: 776; UK: 136; Germany: 73; Switzerland: 42; France: 19; Belgium: 19;

Australia: 17; Canada: 13; China: 4

797 of the gene therapy trials are for cancer diseases, 102 are for monogenic diseases, and 106 are for vascular diseases.