Onconase (Ranpirnase) : Mesothelioma Treatment
Onconase is a new chemotherapy drug that is being tested for the treatment of mesothelioma. Currently the drug that has widespread acceptance in mesothelioma treatment is Doxorubicin. According to early studies, the advantage of Onconase over Doxorubicin, is that Onconase is relatively free of the debilitating side effects of traditional chemotherapy.
Onconase (derived from the words 'oncology' and 'ribonuclease') is a ribonuclease protein derived from the eggs and embryonic stem cells of a species of leopard frogs. Onconase is designed to inhibit cancer cell growth and viral replication. It works by inducing the intracellular decay of RNA. This in turn inhibits the cellular growth of the tumor. It also seems to enhance the anti-cancer effects of conventional chemotherapy. Normally, the body pumps out anti-cancer drugs from the cancerous cell. This requires that higher doses of the toxic drugs be used. However, research results indicate that Onconase is able to make these resistant cells susceptible to standard levels of treatment so that lower doses are effective and side effects reduced.
Onconase also seems to be effective against most tumors (e.g. kidney, breast, lung, prostate), and is especially effective against carcinomas (i.e. solid tumor cancers.) This potentially will make its application widespread since approximately 90% of tumors are of this type. So far research data indicates that Onconase exhibits low toxicity in patients.
Onconase is the first ribonuclease protein drug, and among the first embryonic stem cell products, to reach this stage of clinical testing. Since human testing has just begun on this product, and it's use in fighting mesothelioma is still in an early phase, not much else is known. Clinical trials for this drug are being held at several sites around the country. The treatment is made by Alfacell, a biopharmaceutical company that is extensively involved in the research and development of novel ribonuclease (RNase) enzymes such as Onconase.
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