Biological proteins and peptides can help in the development of drugs that will fight and prevent cancer, said Ananda M Chakrabarty, an Indian-American microbiologist, on the sidelines of the 100th Indian Science Congress — which begins in Kolkata on January 3.
Chakrabarty, who works with the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, said, “Our work on the biological protein, Azurin, and its derived peptide, P28, could lead to the development of a drug that could fight and prevent the growth of cancerous cells. Because it is a completely novel approach, the outcome of such research is uncertain at present. P28 has shown very little toxicity in 15-stage IV terminally ill cancer patients, when no conventional drugs were working. It also showed total regression of tumours in two such patients.”
“We have completed phase 1 of our trials. If P28 is found to be effective in phase 2 and 3 without showing any toxicity, the US Food and Drug Administration will give it market approval. This would take around five years, and the cost would come up to 100 million dollars,” he said. “Making peptide is expensive. Besides that, we also have to pay the cancer patients for letting us conduct the trials.”
Bacterially produced proteins or peptides such as P28 target only cancer cells, thereby showing very little toxicity but significant efficacy. This is the property that makes the bacterial protein drug unique, as compared to other drugs produced by the pharmaceutical industry.