Saturday, March 15, 2008

Nevada Cancer Institute Researcher has Drug Accepted for Human Trials

Dr. Nam Hoang Dang, the Chief of Hematological Malignancies at Nevada Cancer Institute, learned that his drug, which is an antibody to CD26, was accepted by the FDA for Phase1 Human trials. The drug is a humanized monoclonal antibody which targets solid tumors and hematological cancers. During Dang’s 20 years of research, he discovered a molecule called CD26 that plays a crucial role in the development of certain cancers. He then worked on developing its antibody. He told the Las Vegas Sun that the drug has been effective in the lab and in animal tests for a variety of cancers, including kidney cancer; mesophelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs most commonly caused by asbestos; and T-cell lymphoma, a rare blood cancer.

Dang pioneered the study of CD26 over twenty years ago when he was pursuing his Ph.D. and M.D. at Harvard University. Dang was the first researcher to target CD26 to fight cancer. Dang continued his work at MD Anderson Cancer Center where he filed his patent in May 2002, “Anti-CD26 monoclonal antibodies as therapy for diseases associated with cells expressing CD26.” The patent was issued on April 3, 2007.

In 2003 he partnered with Dr. Chikao Morimoto, a researcher in Tokyo, to start a Japan-based pharmaceutical company, Y’s Therapeutics, which has raised the investment capital to help bring the drug to market.

Dang hopes that the Phase I trials will take place at Nevada Cancer Institute. The Phase I clinical trials should start in April 2008 and the results of the trial are expected to be completed in March 2010.

Sandra Murdoch, President of the Nevada Cancer Institute, told the Las Vegas Sun that Dang’s work is a “major breakthrough” which she hopes will help attract more world-class researchers. The institute has 27 researchers on its faculty, but hopes to have 80 within five years.

Dang immigrated to the United States from Vietnam with his family as a 12-year boy in 1975 and learned to speak English while listening to sports talk radio. After spending time in refugee camps off the coast of California, he and his family moved to Dallas, Texas with the support of a church located in Highland Park. He graduated as Valedictorian from Highland Park High School and went to Harvard University and Harvard Medical School, where he graduated with top honors, earning his B.A. (magna cum laude), M.D. (magna cum laude), and Ph.D. degrees. He continued his medical education in the Harvard system with residency training at Massachusetts General Hospital, and fellowship training at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, becoming board-certified in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology. In 2005 he became the Chief of the Department of Hematologic Malignancies at the Nevada Cancer Institute and also in
2008, he became a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Nevada School of Medicine.

1. “Las Vegas Doctor’s Cancer Drug Accepted for Human Testing.” Marshall Allen. The Las Vegas Sun. February 22, 2008.

2. “Y's Therapeutics Announces FDA Acceptance of IND to Conduct Phase I Clinical Trial for YSCMA in the USA.” Company Press Release. February 13, 2008.

3. “Anti-CD26 Monoclonal Antibodies as Therapy for Diseases Associated With Cells Expressing CD26.” United States Patent # 7198788.


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