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Colloidal Gold Nanoparticles as a New Approach to Target Tumour Necrosis Factor to Solid Cancers

Cancer remains a major threat to mankind, despite significant progress in the past decade in understanding, treating and preventing the disease. It is the second major cause of death in the Western world. In Europe, approximately 600,000 people died of cancer in 2000. In the US, cancer is responsible for almost 25 per cent of all deaths annually. In Table 1, current death rates for major cancers are presented. Of increasing concern is the expectation that cancer will continue to be an increasing burden on society, given the fact that the population is ageing and the incidence of cancer increases significantly in older individuals.

Managing and treating these deadly diseases comes at a significant cost to society. Approximately €17 billion was spent on drugs in 2001, divided among chemotherapy (50 per cent), hormonal treatment (35 per cent), and biologicals (15 per cent). The market for anti-cancer drugs is expected to grow at a double-digit rate in the next five years. With a number of promising biologicals recently approved and with advanced clinical trials, it is expected that the share of biologicals in this segment will increase significantly between now and 2008.

Given this highly unmet medical need, it is not surprising to find a large number of drugs in development aimed at treating cancer. According to a recent survey by the US Pharmaceutical Industry Association (PhRMA) there are approximately 175 biotechnology-derived drugs in clinical development for cancer by US companies. In another recent survey, the total number of cancer drugs in the preclinical and discovery pipeline is estimated to be over 500. Many of these are new drugs that work on newly identified targets and address previously unexplored pathways in an effort to more effectively treat these terribly debilitating diseases.


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By Gerben Moolhuizen MBA, Senior Manager Business Development and Leo de Leede PhD, Managing Director at OctoPlus, and Giulio Paciotti PhD, Co-Founder and Vice President for Research and Development, and Lawrence Tamarkin PhD Co-Founder, President and CEO of Cytimmune Sciences Inc

Gerben Moolhuizen, MBA, is Senior Manager Business Development at OctoPlus, a drug delivery and development company based in Leiden, The Netherlands. He has over 10 yearsХ experience in the entrepreneurial life sciences industry, both in project management and business development. Mr Moolhuizen obtained an MSc in Medical Biology from Utrecht University and an MBA from Erasmus University, Rotterdam School of Management.


Dr Leo de Leede PhD, is Managing Director of OctoPlus. He has over 20 years' experience in the pharmaceutical industry in various R&D functions at Organon (an Akzo-nobel division), Gist-brocades and Yamanouchi Europe, where he was Director Pre-Clinical Development for all European activities. Dr de Leede is Chairman of the Board of the Committee on Industrial Relations of the European Federation for Pharmaceutical Scientists. He studied Pharmacy and became a registered Pharmacist in 1979. He obtained a PhD in Biopharmaceutics from the University of Leiden.

Dr Giulio Paciotti PhD, is a Co-Founder and Vice President for Research and Development of CytImmune Sciences Inc. Dr Paciotti received his PhD from the University of Maryland, College Park, in the field of tumour biology. He established the company's research diagnostic division and currently heads the companyХs therapeutic efforts. He guided the development of Aurimune-TTM: a colloidal gold nanoparticle-based therapeutic that targets the delivery of TNF to solid tumours. Aurimune-TTM will be tested in a Phase I clinical trial later this year.


Dr Lawrence Tamarkin PhD, is the Co-Founder, President and CEO of CytImmune Sciences Inc, formed in 1988. In 1997, Dr Tamarkin re-focused the Company's resources to develop its patented, targeted drug delivery system, based on colloidal gold nanoparticles. This delivery system will harness the therapeutic potential of the potent but highly toxic anti-cancer biologic, tumour necrosis factor (TNF) by creating a colloidal gold TNF drug called Aurimune-TTM, which will enter clinical trial in 2003. Dr Tamarkin spent 12 years at the National Institutes of Health and conducted his PhD research at the University of Connecticut.



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Gerben Moolhuizen
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Dr Leo de Leede
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Dr Giulio Paciotti
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Dr Lawrence Tamarkin
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