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Inhaled Drugs May Offer New Cancer Option

New Therapy Provides Targeted Drug Delivery to Treat Cancer in Children

New York City, NY (May 25, 2005) -- Pediatric cancer specialists at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM) are investigating a new type of inhalation chemotherapy with the potential to treat children with a deadly bone cancer that has spread to their lungs.
In the phase 2 study, children use a nebulizer to inhale cisplatin, a standard cancer drug that has been specially encapsulated in protective fatty protein bubbles.  Because it is inhaled rather than administered systemically, the drug can penetrate deep into the lungs and come into direct contact with the metastasized bone cancer cells, known as osteosarcoma cells.  Children receive this treatment in a special inhalation tent that contains purified air.  CHAM is the only pediatric hospital using cisplatin inhalation therapy for osteosarcoma.

“Standard chemotherapy today involves administering drugs through an IV, which can cause considerable side effects including kidney problems and hearing loss,” said Richard Gorlick, MD, chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at CHAM and the study’s principal investigator.

“The potential advantage of inhalation therapy is that a higher concentration of the drug can be delivered directly to the cancerous sites in the lungs, with fewer side-effects.”

“Osteosarcoma is a relatively rare but deadly cancer,” Dr. Gorlick said.  “If our study proves successful it will benefit these children, and it may demonstrate potential for children with other types of cancer that spread to the lungs.”

 Montefiore is the lead institution for this study and will be joined eventually in the study by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Approximately 500 children each year develop osteosarcoma, which, once metastasized, is 90 percent fatal. Of children with osteosarcoma in the United States, approximately100 develop metastatic cancer and an additional 100 suffer from a relapse each year.  These are the children who would benefit most from the new therapy.

Montefiore Medical Center, The University Hospital and Academic Medical Center for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, ranks among the top one percent of all US hospitals based on its investments in medical innovation and cutting-edge technology.

Montefiore invests more in order to enable compassionate, personalized care and the most positive outcomes for patients and their families in New York, the tri-state area and beyond.
Montefiore’s unique combination of ‘state-of-the-art’ technology with ‘state-of-the-heart’ medical and nursing care in a teaching and research environment provides patients with access to world-class medical experts, the newest and most innovative treatments and the best medical center experience anywhere.

This 1,062 bed medical center includes the Henry and Lucy Moses Division, the Jack D. Weiler Hospital and The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, a large home healthcare agency and a 21-site medical group practice located throughout the Bronx and nearby Westchester.

Montefiore treats all major illnesses and has distinguished centers of excellence in cardiology and cardiac surgery, cancer care, tissue and organ transplantation, children's health, women's health, surgery and the surgical subspecialties.  Montefiore Medical Center focuses on providing family-centered healthcare in a nurturing environment that extends well beyond hospital and clinic walls.