The drug known as ONX-0801 was recently tested in a trial run by the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in London.
This new therapy was tested in 15 women with advanced ovarian cancer and significantly shrank tumours in seven of the 15 ovarian cancer patients.
This new therapy attacks ovarian cancer by mimicking folic acid to enter the cancer cells. The drug then kills these cells by blocking a molecule called thymidylate synthase, thereby causing irreparable DNA damage.
Ovarian cancer cells have an abnormally large number of receptors for folic acid, called alpha folate receptors. This means these cancer cells respond particularly well to the treatment. As the therapy is so specifically targeted at ovarian cancer cells, it leaves healthy cells alone. This means it does not have the side-effects, such as infections, diarrhoea, nerve damage and hair loss, often seen with chemotherapy.