Cancer drug derived from Himalayan caterpillar fungus
Cordycepin, is a naturally occurring nucleoside analogue, which was first found in Himalayas, it is a type of the parasitic fungus species called Ophiocordyceps sinensis, and reported to offer a range of anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects. Chinese used it as an herbal remedy in traditional medicine for centuries.
However, Cordycepin breaks down quickly in the blood stream, so a minimal amount of cancer-destroying drug is delivered to the tumour.
In order to improve its potency and clinically assess its applications as a cancer drug, biopharmaceutical company has developed Cordycepin into a clinical therapy, using their novel ProTide technology, to create a chemotherapy drug with dramatically improved efficacy (NUC-7738).
ProTide technology is a novel approach for delivering chemotherapy drugs into cancer cells. It works by attaching small chemical groups to nucleoside analogues like Cordycepin, which are then later metabolised once it has reached the patient’s cancer cells, releasing the activated drug.
Researchers are now assessing NUC-7738 in the Phase 1 clinical trial, which tests the drug in patients with advanced solid tumours that were resistant to conventional treatment. Early results from the trial have shown that NUC-7738 is well tolerated by patients and shows encouraging signs of anti-cancer activity.
While it's certainly a promising start, it will still be some time before NUC-7738 becomes available to patients outside the trial.