Russian scientists test universal cancer-killing drug in space

MOSCOW — Russian scientists have successfully tested a genetically-engineered drug that can help fight all kinds and stages of malignant tumors in humans, Russian media report.

The drug was tested in space and could become available to cancer patients in three to four years, the Izvestia newspaper said on Friday.

“Our drug has a working name ‘thermal shock protein’, based on the main active ingredient. It’s a molecule that is created by any cell of the human body in response to various stress factors. Scientists have known about its existence a long time ago,” Deputy Director of the Scientific Research Institute of Highly Pure Biologic Treatments of the Russian Federal Medical & Biological Agency (FMBA), Professor Andrei Simbirtsev said as quoted by the newspaper.

Simbirtsev explained that scientists had initially assumed that the protein only protects human cells from damage, but later discovered that it also helps cells reveal their tumor antigens to the immune system, thus strengthening the immune response.

The protein is present in minimal amounts in the human body, but Russian scientists have identified the gene responsible for its production, and then created a bacterial cell that can produce the protein.

“Such [bacterial] cells multiply well, which allowed us to obtain unlimited amounts of the protein,” Simbirtsev said.

The new drug that uses the protein as its main active component has been tested on mice and rats with melanoma and sarcoma, leading to complete recovery even in the later stages in the majority of the cases.

According to Simbirtsev, preclinical trials will take an additional year to complete and will help determine with all confidence that the new drug has zero toxicity. PNA/