AUSTIN (KXAN) - An Austin biotech company developed a drug that may ultimately beat cancer.
Linda Flandry has been driving from Waco to Houston for almost three years to be treated with the experimental drug now in the trial phase at MD Anderson Cancer Center . So far in her cancer fight, she is beating the odds.
"They said I would live two to five years, and it has been 13," said Flandry.
Flandry has peritoneum cancer that has spread in the lining of her abdomen. Surgery and chemotherapy did not work and only made her feel worse, so she turned to her last resort -- the experimental drug called Xilonix.
"I didn't know if it was going to help me or destroy me," said Flandry. "I don't have any side effects, except being a little tired. The rest of them made me sick. This one does not."
Flandry does not get sick, because the drug is actually a human antibody called Xilonix. Unlike chemotherapy that harms other cells around the cancer, Xilonix targets the specific cancerous areas leaving the surrounding cells free of toxins.
The Austin company that developed Xilonix
The drug was developed by Austin biotech company XBiotech . Xilonix does not eliminate advanced cancer but stops the growth of it, and it stops patients from losing so much weight that often happens. Researchers hope it may one day stop cancer altogether in the early stages.
Xilonix has been used in trials on numerous types of advanced cancers. XBiotech recently got approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a new drug trial with Xilonix focusing specifically on colorectal cancer patients. It will begin in 2013.
"It's an exciting time and period for oncology," said Dr. David Hong with MD Anderson Cancer Center. "There are a lot of drugs coming into testing. I think we are seeing more and more of these patients that are successfully doing well on some of these new agents," said Hong.
Flandry is doing well after three years on the experimental drug or human antibody. Her cancer is stable, and she and her husband of 42 years have good reasons to keep fighting. Their three grandchildren have all been born since she began her cancer battle.
"I just want to live and see my grandkids grow up," said Flandry.
By taking part in this drug trial, she may help save many more lives in the process.
The next step for the experimental treatment
The FDA has put Xilonix on the "fast track" for approval. Most drugs take about nine years to get FDA's OK, but XBiotech hopes to get the results of the newest trial to the FDA in the next year and a half and have Xilonix approved as soon as possible.
"The Fast Track study design reflects our belief that Xilonix will substantially prolong life in this advanced cancer population," said John Simard , XBiotech president and CEO.
"We are very grateful to the FDA for the careful analysis of our clinical results and for granting Fast Track designation to Xilonix," said Michael Stecher , M.D., XBiotech medical director. "This designation highlights the significance of the data generated to date, and the potential for this treatment to address the needs of a patient population that has no effective therapies available."
At the same time, the Austin company is testing the human antibody for use in treating vascular disease helping blood vessels stay open. The experimental drug was also given the "fast track" designation from the FDA in treating vascular disease patients.
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