20-(S)-Camptothecin (CAM), a plant alkaloid, was tested against 13 human cancer xenograft lines carried by immunodeficient (nude) mice. The drug, formulated in 20% intralipid and given i.m., was more effective than any other clinically available drug tested. It was found that: (a) CAM, at nontoxic doses, suppressed growth and induced regression of cancer of the colon (3 lines), lung (4 lines), breast (2 lines), stomach (1 line), ovary (1 line), and malignant melanoma (2 lines); (b) the drug was equally effective administered i.m. or p.o. Both routes are significantly better than i.v. administration; (c) CAM is substantially more effective and less toxic than its sodium salt, which was unsuccessfully tested in cancer patients. CAM should be further tested against responsive cancers as a drug which is easy to isolate and formulate for large-scale studies.
The research was supported in part by USPHS-NIH Grant CA 11655, Grants RD-300 and CH-348C from the American Cancer Society, and the Stehlin Foundation for Cancer Research.