Osteosarcoma is a cancer of the bone, also called osteogenic sarcoma. The bone cancer cells generate bone growth, but in an uncontrolled manner. The bone formed is much weaker than normal bone and often osteosarcoma is first identified following unexpected bone fracture unrelated to trauma. Osteosarcoma can occur at any age but it is particularly prevalent in teenagers or young adults. It usually develops in areas where the bone is developing rapidly, such as at the end of bones close to the knee. The most common sites are the lower part of the femur (thigh bone) or the upper part of the tibia (shin bone). It may occur in any bone, but in adults particularly, it may also be found in the shoulder, pelvis or jaw bones.
Osteosarcoma is a rare form of cancer. Around 800 people are diagnosed each year in the United States, half of these cases being in children and teenagers.
Clinical treatment for osteosarcoma is usually amputation or removal of the diseased area of bone and replacement with a prosthesis. Usually intensive chemotherapy is started before surgery and then continued afterwards to minimize disease spread.
There is clearly a place for a therapy that can effectively target bone and precisely deliver chemotherapeutic agents to the site of the tumour. Current therapies all require drug infusions that impact all areas of the body and doses administered are generally at a higher level to ensure that an adequate amount of drug is able to get into the bone and to the tumour site.
Mesentech’s technology is a new approach to the treatment of osteosarcoma and provides a mechanism whereby chemotherapeutic drugs can be targeted directly to and into the bone. The technology should allow for delivery of adequate dosages of the drugs sufficient that the tumour can be treated, whilst at the same time ensuring that other non-targeted tissue can be spared.