•The aim of the trial is to investigate the drug’s ability to block the activity of gene mutation responsible for causing cancer in affected patients
•The pill developed by Roche Pharmaceuticals is intended to stop the uncontrolled cell growth and division of the cancer in those patients
The Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi is conducting clinical trials on a cancer drug to assess its effectiveness.
The aim of the trial is to investigate the drug’s ability to block the activity of gene mutation responsible for causing cancer in affected patients.
The pill developed by Roche Pharmaceuticals is intended to stop the uncontrolled cell growth and division of cancer in those patients.
The study follows the approval of a similar drug to treat lung cancer by the USA’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2021.
The first patient on the trial is a Ugandan national who is currently receiving this experimental therapy.
The director of the Aga Khan University’s Cancer Centre and the Hospital’s Clinical Research Unit Mansoor Saleh on Tuesday said the gene in question is the KRAS gene.
According to the medic, the KRAS gene in normal conditions gets activated when parts of the human body grow and become functionally active after which it becomes inactive.
The clinical trial seeks to test the anti-tumour property of GDC 6036, an experimental treatment that blocks the activation of the mutated gene in human tumours.
The gene is present in all cells of the body and is responsible for the growth and survival of normal cells.
“Sometimes, however, KRAS activation becomes uncontrolled resulting in uncontrolled growth, which then leads in some cases to cancer,” he explained.
“In about 30 per cent of cancer tumours, the KRAS gene is mutated and goes into uncontrolled activation state making it a cancer-causing gene or oncogene."
The medic explained that the mutated gene is reportedly responsible for the development of lung cancer, colon cancers and some other human cancers.
“We are very delighted to be participating in this trial that we believe is going to develop therapies that are relevant to the African population,” AKUH Nairobi’s CEO Rashid Khalani said.
According to Saleh, the genetic differences between the African population and the rest of the world have increased the need to study novel treatments for the African population due to their ability to respond differently or have more or less toxicity than patients from the West.