Brace yourself as a Filipino-initiated medical breakthrough is about to take place. This piece of good news was brought to public attention when a DOST-funded medical research project has announced that a unique anti-cancer treatment that promises fewer side effects and less pain is under development.
Developed by a team led by Dr. Jay Lazaro of the Institute of Biology, University of the Philippines-Diliman, the treatment uses immunoliposomes as carriers of drugs in cancer therapy. It is currently being tested on mice and part of a project funded by the Department of Science and Technology.
“This kind of breakthrough technology is part of DOST’s drug discovery program for 2012. It lists high in the priorities under the Department’s antibody molecular oncology research and development (R&D) in our search for anti-cancer treatments suitable to Filipinos,” DOST Sec. Mario Montejo in a statement here Thursday said.
This new technology, Montejo said ,is much better than the more common method called chemotherapy in which drug is administered intravenously. The procedure lasts about 60 to 120 minutes and repeated every three to four weeks. In general, chemotherapy damages cells that are dividing, including normal cells in the hair, skin, lining of the mouth and digestive system. These body parts are frequently growing or constantly renewing themselves. As a result, patients experience side effects such as nausea or vomiting, immediate allergic reaction, fatigue, weight loss, taste and smell changes resulting in loss of appetite, and hair loss.
“At present, we are testing the technology using Caelyx, a certain cancer drug. However, the technology can be eventually used for any other drug and any other illness,” Lazaro, in the same statement said.
Caelyx treatment for cancer may cost about P40,000 to 45,000 for every 20 mg. Although treatment by immunoliposome may cost higher, it is more effective as it is target-specific and has less toxicity and side effects. This means less fatigue for the patient and greater chance of winning and recovering against the disease, he said.
According to the Department of Health, cancer is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the Philippines, behind communicable diseases and cardiovascular diseases.