A university of Houston pharmaceutical scientist is developing a drug which could bring relief to children suffering with Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP), a rare genetic disorder characterized by hundreds if not thousands of colorectal polyps. This hereditary cancer predisposition syndrome occurs in 3 per 100000 live births and, if left untreated, causes colorectal cancer in patients nearly 100 percent of the time. Prior medication for the diseases failed because it increased the risk of heart attacks and death.
In case of success, this drug will likely become the first drug for treating children with FAP and will also be useful for colon cancer prevention in other high risk populations.
Hu (professor of pharmaceutics) and his team took this opportunity to develop a more effective treatment through a locally bioavailable COX_2(cyclo-oxygenase-2) inhibitot, meaning one that will remain inside the gut area. This new drug is designed to cycle through the colon without escaping to the circulatory system and reaching non-targeted organs. The drug inhibits the production of the molecule called PGE2, which magnifies pain and promotes tumor growth in the colon.
Hu says the drug will also be effective for preventing recurrence after the polyps are removed, which could lead to fewer incidents of colon cancer in high-risk populations.
“Nobody has designed a drug like this, which recycles and limits exposure to the target organ,” said Hu. He has filed a patent on this approach to designing drugs.