News Feature | February 7, 2014

Anti-fungal Drug Shown To Treat Cancer

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By Marcus Johnson

Cancer has been one of the most profitable sectors for the drug industry: however, costs are rising for both the drug developers and consumers. In order to find effective drugs that fight cancer, both parties are turning to diffent, sometimes unconventional solutions. One such solution for fighting skin cancer might already be avaliable on the market.

The drug itraconazole, which is currently used as an anti-fungal cream, has shown positive effects when applied to patients with skin cancer. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology tested itraconazole on skin cancer patients in order to see how effective the drug could be. The study contained 29 patients with a total of over 100 tumors caused by skin cancer. By using itraconazole for a month, the majority of patient tumors decreased in size.

The study’s results are significant because the particular skin cancer tested in the study, basal cell carcinoma, afflicts almost 3 million Americans every year. Some of the researchers involved with the study believe that, inestead of spending time, money, and research efforts developing new drugs for skin cancer, itraconazole could be repurposed as a cancer fighting drug.

Senior author of the study, Jean Tang, said, “New drugs cost about $800 million and an average of 10 years to develop. We are shortcutting the process by using a drug that’s already been around for 25 years and given to tens of thousands of people.”

Phillip Beachy, a doctor who has studied the effects of repurposing drugs already approved by the FDA, agrees. “We realized that if there are drugs already out there with the potential, it would be much easier to bring them to patients,” said Beachy.

Source: http://med.stanford.edu/ism/2014/february/tang.html

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