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New drug found effective against rare form of basal cell skin cancer
Date:6/6/2012

h include loss of taste and appetite, weight loss, muscle cramps and hair loss, occur in nearly half of patients. Though not life threatening, they can be debilitating. Since patients would have to take vismodegib indefinitely, it is not a suitable alternative to surgery for patients with sporadic basal cell cancers.

"The purpose of the study was to see whether, by using this targeted molecular therapy, we could match the performance of a surgeon, and in many ways, we could," Dr. Bickers added. "The challenge now is to see if we can lessen the adverse effects while achieving the same therapeutic benefits by modifying the dosing schedule or perhaps by alternating drug treatment with other modalities such as photodynamic therapy, which can be effective for smaller lesions."

This is one of the first human cancer therapies based on determining the genetic mutations in a particular tumor pathway (in this case, sonic hedgehog) and inhibiting the pathway directly. The findings may have broader relevance to treating other types of basal cell skin cancer (the most common form of cancer in adults), which are caused by similar dysregulation of the sonic hedgehog pathway.


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Contact: Elizabeth Streich
estreich@columbia.edu
212-305-3689
Columbia University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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