St George’s University of London has begun a clinical trial of common malaria drug artesunate, priced at 70p, for the treatment of cancer.
The ability of artesunate to decrease the multiplication of tumour cells, as well as the risk of cancer spreading or recurring after surgery, will be studied during the trial.
The trial is to be conducted in collaboration with St George’s Hospital and the university has raised more than £50,000 through a crowdfunding campaign to fund the second part.
The trial is currently in the process of enrolling subjects and focuses on determining if a simple intervention with an established, off-patent and affordable anti-malarial drug, taken for two weeks before surgery, can minimise the risk of cancer recurrence in stage II/III bowel cancer patients.
St George’s University of London Professor Sanjeev Krishna said: "We are delighted that the next phase of our study is now going ahead and we are looking forward to working with patients to examine whether this important work can have a real impact on cancer patients’ lives.
"Collaborations like this between the academic researchers and clinicians in our leading hospitals are the bedrock of our opportunities to gain understanding and potential breakthroughs in treatment that can benefit many."
The university has also partnered with Ashford and St Peter’s University Hospitals, along with Kingston University Hospital NHS Foundation Trusts to expedite the enrolment.
The second part of the trial will evaluate the ability of artesunate, derived from the plant Artemisia annua, to treat colorectal cancer.
Image: New trial for treating cancer with malaria drug. Photo: courtesy of St George’s University of London.