'Coffee filter' helps make new cancer drug Z-endoxifen 1000 times cheaper
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IMAGE: Lech-Gustav Milroy of Eindhoven University of Technology demonstrating the simple paper filter separation method he used to replace expensive HPLC separation. In the background you can see the previously used… view more 

Credit: Bart van Overbeeke/TU Eindhoven.

Making drugs cheaper doesn’t always require pricey investments. A joint initiative by researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), the Dutch company Syncom BV and the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek hospital proves just that. What started out as a Bachelor project at TU/e laid the foundation for a much cheaper production of the promising cancer drug Z-endoxifen.

Tamoxifen is known world-wide as a blockbuster chemotherapeutic drug for the treatment of breast cancer, but it is not always effective. Before it can exert its healing effect, the patient’s body must first convert it into the active component Z-endoxifen. Unfortunately, the conversion depends on the patient’s genes, which can lead to a variable therapeutic response in patients. By not administering Tamoxifen but Z-endoxifen directly, this genetic dependence is circumvented and the medicine therefore becomes more effective and less toxic due to lower dosing. This has also been demonstrated by clinical trials in the US.

The application of Z-endoxifen had quite a hurdle to overcome:

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