Artemisinins like Artesunate are one of the most widely used antimalarial compounds, having been used to treat tens of millions of adults and children globally. They come from a plant called Sweet Wormwood, and have been used for more than two millennia in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a variety of ailments.
A Research study called "NeoART" opened to recruitment at St Peter’s, Chertsey in April 2017. It is a Phase II randomized, double blind, placebo controlled trial.
"NeoART" was set up by a team of colorectal cancer and infectious disease specialists at St George’s University of London and aims to recruit 200 participants at 7 trial centres across the UK.
It will help determine if giving 2 weeks of pre-operative oral Artesunate can reduce the risk of cancer recurring after surgery in patients with Stage II/III operable bowel cancer.
Colorectal cancer is a leading cause of cancer related morbidity and mortality with a global incidence of one million new cases per year. Each day in the UK, 110 new colorectal cancer cases are diagnosed. Over half of new cases present with locally advanced disease making recurrence more likely, particularly in the elderly.
Current treatments involve complex combinations of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. All these measures however haven’t increased overall survival beyond 60% five years after patients receive a diagnosis.
There have been a number of lab based studies looking at the anticancer effects of Artemisinins which appear to reduce the ability of cancer cells to survive and grow. A feasibility study at St George's Hospital showed that pre-operative Artesunate showed encouraging results, which now need to be confirmed in a larger study looking at both the benefits and side-effects of taking Artesunate in a larger group of patients.
The NeoART team took a unique approach to fund the study – running a successful crowd-funding campaign on FutSci and managed to raise over £56,000 in 3 months to purchase the drug and meet other trial related costs. A small charity called Bowel Disease UK also raised funds to support a clinical research fellow for 3 years to set up and run the study. The study team are conducting further fundraising events to support study follow-up for the next 7 years.
For further information or to donate please visit the study website: http://neoarttrial.org/