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HIV Drug Might Fight Cancer
Date:9/1/2007

ls that are resistant to common chemotherapy drugs. Nelfinavir may also be able to overcome resistance to radiation, the researchers reported.

Dennis noted that low doses of nelfinavir are used in treating HIV, and even at those low doses, the drug is effective against cancer. The current phase I trial will test higher doses to find the most effective dose with the fewest harmful side effects, he said.

In the trial, patients are already receiving higher doses with no apparent problem, Dennis said.

"If nelfinavir is proven effective in fighting cancer, it would, most likely, be used in combination with other cancer drugs," Dennis said.

One expert thinks this finding could be an important advance in cancer treatment.

"If it is proven that the toxicity levels are manageable in humans, it's going to be a great thing," said Charles Saxe, a scientific program director at the American Cancer Society. "Being able to get these drugs faster to patients by crossing over from one disease to another is going to be a big help."

Saxe noted that nelfinavir's ability to fight cancer in humans still needs to be proven. "But if they are right, and they can keep toxicity at reasonable levels, and they can show an effect at doses HIV patients can handle, that would be really exciting," he said.

In other cancer news, National Cancer Institute researchers report that they have found an extract of the skin of muscadine grapes (MSKE) can cause prostate cancer cells to die without affecting normal cells, according to a report in the Sept. 1 issue of Cancer Research.

The lead researcher noted this extract does not contain significant amounts of resveratrol, another grape skin component that has been linked to preventing the growth of prostate cancer.

"These results show that MSKE may have potent anti-tumor activities in the lab that differ from the effects of resveratrol. Further studies of MSKE
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