French-Armenian Discovers Breakthrough Anti-Cancer Drug

PARIS (Combined Sources)–An Armenian research scientist at France’s National Center for Scientific Research and his two colleagues have quite possibly paved the way for a new type of non-toxic treatment to fight cancer.

A recent study directed by Dr. Ara Hovannesian at the CNRS laboratories describes a new candidate anti-cancer drug, named HB-19, which has the ability to block the multiplication of cancer cells as well as the formation of the blood vessels that nourish tumors. Dr. Hovanessian has published the results of this study in the June 18 edition of PLoS ONE.

The ability to target independently, both tumor cell growth, as well as tumor angiogenesis might be the first step towards a new nontoxic anti-cancer therapy, according to Dr. Hovanessian and his research colleague Jean-Paul Briand.

In tests with mice grafted with human breast tumor cells, HB-19 treatment markedly suppresses the progression of tumor development, and in some cases eliminates measurable tumors while displaying no toxicity to normal tissue.

HB-19’s inhibiting of tumor development in experimen’s on mice is comparable to that of 5-fluorouracil, a drug that is used to treat several types of human cancer.

But, 5-fluorouracil has toxic effects on white blood cells, whereas HB-19 demonstrated no observable toxicity in this study.

Another possible advantage of HB-19 over existing anti-cancer drugs is the ease at which it can be synthesized and reproduced using conventional techniques.

ImmuPharma has obtained the exclusive rights to HB-19 and is set to begin a preliminary clinical study of the drug at the beginning of 2009.

Born in Aleppo, Syria, Dr. Hovanessian holds BSc and MSc degrees from the American University of Beirut and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from King’s College, London. He is the founder and head of the Virology and Cellular Immunology Unit at the prestigious Pasteur Institute in Paris and is also a Director of Research at France’s National Center of Scientific Research.

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