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Tuesday, 27 March, 2001, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
Vet's drug fights human cancers
cancer drug
The drug is unlike conventional chemotherapy treatment
A cancer drug originally created by a London vet to treat animals is now being tested on humans.

And patients are already reporting beneficial effects.

Vet John Carter created the compound, called CV247, which stops the spread and growth of tumours rather than killing them.

Originally he used it to tackle tumour cells in dogs and cats - with spectacularly successful results.

The reputation of the compound spread, and sickly animals were brought to his practice in Harrow from all over the country.

Mr Carter has now set up his own pharmaceutical company to market CV247 should it prove a winner in human trials.

He said: "In 1988, after 12 years of research, I arrived at a formula I thought might be effective and started using it on animals in my practice.

"News spread and articles appeared in newspapers and magazines. People began bringing their pets to me from all over England."

The results in animals were so encouraging that Mr Carter even offered it to people with incurable cancer as an alternative therapy.

The drug is administered in fruit juice, rather than in pill or injection form like conventional cancer drugs.

Mr Carter believes that it blocks a biochemical pathway which allows cancer cells to grow and divide, the mechanism which leads to the invasion of other organs, and the progression of the disease.

Human testing

Leading the human trials at Bedford Hospital is Dr Robert Thomas, a consultant oncologist, who has recruited 40 patients with advanced cancers of the the prostate, colon, and ovary.

They will take the drug for three months - and may continue to take it if it proves successful in limiting the spread of the cancer.

Dr Thomas said: "It's a product which is not like conventional chemotherapy or radiotherapy. It does not set out to kill anything that's dividing fast in a person's body.

"You're looking at the fundamental reasons why cancers become killers and trying to switch off these pathways and make these cells dormant."

One of the trial subjects, Josephine Brown, from Sandy in Bedfordshire, who has ovarian cancer, said: "In the very beginning I just wanted to cut the cancer out and get rid of it.

"But I realise that I can live with cancer. As long as it can be controlled I can deal with it."

She said taking the compound had made her feel "really well".

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