The drug, ETC-206, was discovered and developed by the Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School (Duke-NUS) and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (A*STAR) Drug Discovery and Development unit (D3) and Experimental Therapeutics Centre (ETC). (Channel NewsAsia, 10 March 2017)
ETC-206 is a new cancer drug candidate which can be used for treating blood cancer. The three main types of blood cancer are Leukaemia, Lymphoma, and Myeloma. (“Singapore Clinical Research Institute”; “American Society of Hematology”) Leukaemia and Lymphoma are in the top 10 frequent cancer deaths in Singapore (National Cancer Center Singapore, 2011-2015). ETC-206 is meant for people who are suffering from later stage cancer.
The drug lower Leukaemia mortality rates compared to chemotherapy. As chemotherapy will damage the immune system as much as it kills cancer cells. (Channel NewsAsia, 10 March 2017)
ETC-206 is Singapore’s second publicly-funded cancer drug after ETC-159, which was announced in 2015. ETC-159 targets a range of cancers, like colorectal, ovarian and pancreatic cancer. (Channel NewsAsia, 10 March 2017)
The drug has started its first phase of clinical trials on 34 healthy volunteers in December 2016. Trails on patients who are in the late stages of cancer have started in August 2017. It might take years for ETC-206 to go onto the market. The first phase of clinical trials tests for safety and tolerability. For the second phase test for its efficacy and the third phase test will be randomised clinical trials. (The Straits Times, 10 March 2017)
How does the drug work?
The drug obstructs Mnk enzyme in cancer cells which the drug developers identified as a key player in promoting growth. Therefore, effectively stopping the spread and progression of cancer. (Channel NewsAsia, 10 March 2017)
How long did it take to produce a new drug?
“A team of chemists took about 60 weeks, which is a year and 8 weeks to synthesise the drug manually. They sifted through more than 2,000 compounds in 700 possible combinations to find a formula that met their criteria for potency, chemical stability and purity, among others.” (Channel NewsAsia, 10 March 2017)
What did I learn
It takes a lot of patience for researchers to create a new drug as they will face a lot of dead ends and failures during their research.
It does not just take a few minutes to invent a new drug. The actual process behind new medicine can actually take up about 7 years from initial discovery to the marketplace. Firstly, researchers have to do their basic researches followed by drug discovery and then pre-clinical. After pre-clinical, there are 3 clinical trials and then it has to get approval from authorities before being on the market. (Channel NewsAsia, 10 March 2017)
I have also learnt that Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally and was responsible for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. Globally, nearly 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer. In Singapore, the primary cause of death is cancer. In 2016, cancer is responsible for 29.6% of the total death. (Ministry Of Health,13 Jul 2018 ).
In Singapore, Colo-rectal, Pancreatic, Lymphomas and Leukaemia are in the top 10 rank frequent cancer deaths in Singapore for males. Its ranks are 2nd, 5th, 8th and 10th respectively. For women, Colo-rectal, Pancreatic, Ovarian, Lymphomas and Leukaemia are also in the top 10 rank frequent cancer deaths in Singapore. Its ranks are 3rd, 6th, 7th, 9th and 10th respectively. Thus, with the new drug ETC-159 and ETC-206, it can save many lives in the world.
What I would create if I was an inventor
I would create a machine that will give sufficient food and water to the stray animals. It will dispense food at a fixed timing and clear unfinished food. Therefore, this will keep the place neat and not overfeed the animals. As many people do not clean up after feeding stray animals and sometimes overfeed them. This machine will ensure the well being of stray animals as they will be fed frequently.
Why would I create this machine?
I would create this machine because stray dogs and cats have to find their own food and shelter every day. There will be days where they can’t find any food and thus they would starve for that day. Without proper food, they will fall ill easier due to their weak immune system. When they fall ill, they would not be able to live much longer as there isn’t anyone who takes care of them or bring them to the vet. Dogs and Cats can live about 3 days without food and drinks.
Announcement of ETC-206, A*STAR’s second publicly funded cancer drug > Agency for Science Technology and Research (A*STAR). 2017. [Online]. Available from https://www.a-star.edu.sg/News-and-Events/News/Publicity-Highlights/ID/5624 [Accessed July 2, 2018]
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Fai, L. K. 2017. New made-in-Singapore cancer drug could lower leukaemia mortality. [Online]. Available from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/new-made-in-singapore-cancer-drug-could-lower-leukaemia-mortalit-8760410 %5BAccessed July 2, 2018]
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Phrma. Biopharmaceutical Research & Development: The Process Behind New Medicines. [Online] Available: http://phrma-docs.phrma.org/sites/default/files/pdf/rd_brochure_022307.pdf [Accessed July 2, 2018]
SINGAPORE CANCER REGISTRY REPORT NO. 8. (2015). [PDF] Available from https://www.nrdo.gov.sg/docs/librariesprovider3/default-document-library/cancertrends_7312_web128e09a5c9d76bafab5aff000014cdee.pdf?sfvrsn=0 [Accessed July 14, 2018]