A Nano Drug's Giant Promise
After a decade-long slog to FDA approval, APP's Abraxane, a novel, less-toxic cancer treatment, has doctors and investors hopeful (BusinessWeek)
- Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong isn't a big fan of the word "vindicated," but sometimes he just can't resist uttering it. And who can blame him? In January, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved Abraxane, a new cancer-treatment drug made by American Pharmaceutical Partners (APPX ), which Soon-Shiong founded.
During a 10-year battle to get the drug to market, Schaumburg (Ill.)-based APP weathered lawsuits from investors who thought Soon-Shiong was hyping the Abraxane's prospects, attacks by short-sellers who were convinced APP's stock would plummet, and even fraud accusations from Soon-Shiong's own brother, who was once his business partner. "People thought it was blue-sky, crazy, impossible," Soon-Shiong says of the new drug.
Indeed, at times Abraxane seemed like an unobtainable goal. The drug is a reengineered form of Taxol, a popular chemotherapy treatment used for some forms of cancer. Although Taxol is effective, it has such high toxicity that its label warns of "severe hypersensitivity" and "fatal reactions." The reason: Taxol has to be dissolved in an industrial-strength solvent that causes most of the dreadful side effects. Soon-Shiong's idea was to ditch the solvent and attach the drug to tiny nano-particles of protein instead -- an idea that had been tried unsuccessfully by others. More here
A Spoonful of Nano
Living on nano time