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Cancer: new drug developed in Coimbra will be tested in patients in 2013

07.02.2012 in Lusa

A new medicine for cancer treatment, developed by researchers at University of Coimbra (UC) and Bluepharma, will be tested next year. It is expected to reach the market by 2015.

This was illustrated to Lusa by Sérgio Simões, VP for Business and Product Development, who sees “very strong competitive advantages” in the new drug, when compared to the ones of the same family, currently on the market.

It’s “significantly stronger and safer”. It requires lesser doses and the side effects are smaller, he said. Besides these advantages, another one has to do with the fact that the patient can be exposed to daylight, which does not happen with the first and second generation drugs, which actually make the patient very sensitive to light after the treatments.

The new drug is being developed by Luzitin Inc., created by researchers from the University of Coimbra and Bluepharma, and is the result of a decade-long research project, initiated at the Chemistry Department of that institution. Currently the company is already performing non-clinical studies with animals, so it can move on to clinical trials in cancer patients in the beginning of 2013.

It is a drug administered by photodynamic therapy, a technique that allows targeting cancer cells, concentrating the medicine in the affected areas and irradiating it with light. Currently, this research is more suitable for treating tumors in the neck, head and more advanced ones in the lungs. However, further therapeutic applications are being explored.