New cancer drug developed in Arizona


by Kristine Harrington

Posted on May 6, 2011 at 5:49 PM

Updated Friday, May 6 at 6:03 PM

PHOENIX - A new cancer fighting drug developed right here in the Valley is giving hope to those fighting the disease, specifically those with ovarian and uterine cancers.
The Phoenix based, Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) has licensed its first drug, ONCO-101, a unique compound that targets cancer tumors by modifying the actions of proteins.
“We think it will allow people to live longer with their disease,” said Dr. Stephen Gately, President of TGEN Drug Development Services. “Our experimental work suggests it's very active in ovarian cancers and uterine cancers, 2 diseases with great unmet needs so we’re very excited to have treatment for these patients.”
Patients like Sharon Beyer who has been fighting ovarian cancer since 1999.

“My doctor ran out of chemotherapy agents for ovarian cancer and suggested TGEN,” she said.

Sharon has participated in three different TGEN clinical trials here at the Virgina Piper Cancer Center in Scottsdale and now she is thrilled to learn TGEN has now developed and licensed it’s own drug, ONCO-101, which could very well someday target her tumor.

“I'm ready for it,” she said.
The Virginia Piper Cancer Center has between 30 and 40 studies going on at any given time with roughly 100 patients participating.
“There's a lot of cancer in this world,” said Oncology Nurse Practitioner Cathy Mast. “And we probably have more patients then we have agents we can use.”
Still cancer patients come here willing to try anything in their fight to survive knowing just minutes up the road TGEN works to develop the tools those same patients need to win the fight.
“It's the most important part of our mission to make a difference in the lives of patients today,” said Dr. Gately.

The drug, ONCO-101, is being licensed to Oncoholdings Inc., a pharmaceutical company focused on the acquisition and development of new anti-cancer compounds.

The goal is to get ONCO-101 into clinical trials in the next year or so.

“(In the meantime) we're working hard to bring new agents to patients and as we study and better understand what's underlying the tumors, we'll be able to be very specific in the types of drugs we develop,” said Dr. Gately.