|Oral drug reduces the formation of precancerous |
polyps in the colon.
An oral biologic medication has successfully treated chronic, precancerous inflammation in the intestine, according to results of an animal study. The study is featured on the cover of the current issue of Cancer Research.
Inflammatory cells in the colon, or polyps, are very common after the age of 50. The average 60-year-old has an estimated 25 percent chance of having polyps. Most polyps are benign, but some will develop into colon cancer. For that reason, the standard treatment for polyps is to remove them. According to the paper, this is one of the first times an oral biologic has been used successfully to change the natural history of a genetic disease; in this case, a mutation that puts individuals at very high risk for colon cancer.
Oral biologics are drugs based on biological molecules derived from natural substances from humans, animals or microorganisms. Oral biologics have an obvious advantage over other biologics, which must be injected or otherwise administered. But even though it was administered orally, the drug used in the study did not deliver its pharmaceutical payload until it reached the intestinal surface.
Using animal models of precancerous polyps in the bowel, the researchers determined that certain types of immune cells within a chronically inflamed intestine can become rewired, causing them to contribute to disease development rather than protect against it.
The researchers went on to reprogram these immune cells, making them lose their pathogenic potential. They did it by delivering immuno-modulatory compounds, specifically, the bioactive protein interleukin-10, into the inflamed intestine, which reduced both the speed and severity of polyp formation. Interleukin-10 was administered as a whole recombinant protein encapsulated within polymer micro-particles. This, in turn, significantly benefited the mice, relieving symptoms including anemia, enlarged spleen and weight loss, and lengthening their lifespan.
The researchers are now involved in studies which hope to determine whether some of the immunologic phenomenon they observed in the mouse models are representative of intestinal disease in human patients who harbor genetic mutations which predispose them to develop colon cancer.