Australian drug that ‘melts’ cancer cells approved for human use

A drug that could "melt away" cancer cells has been approved for human use in Australia.

Developed in Melbourne, Venetoclax, which will be sold as Venclexta, has been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for use by patients with advanced forms of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

The drug, which was approved for use in the United States in August 2016, will be made available to patients who have not responded to standard treatments or who have not been able to undergo other therapies.

Venetoclax works by blocking the action of the BCL-2 protein which enables cancer cells to survive, a solution that researchers worldwide have been studying for more than 30 years.

Doug Hilton, the director at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, said the approval was important for patients with limited options.

"Like a lethal arrow, Venetoclax flies straight to the heart of BCL-2," Hilton told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Tuesday.

"The fact that Australians with hard-to-treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia can now benefit from a drug like Venetoclax demonstrates how critically important medical research is to the health of our community."

Andrew Roberts, a clinical hematologist at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, said the drug was also being combined with other approved treatments for other blood cancers.

"Ongoing research suggests that this drug will be very active against other cancers, so this milestone may just be the beginning," Roberts told the ABC.

David Huang, the developer of the drug from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, won the Eureka Prize for Innovation in Medical Research in 2016.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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