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December 21, 2005
Another Shot at Cancer
Regular readers might enjoy seeing some of the posts from this blog recapitulated in this New York Times story about this week's approval of a new cancer therapy from Bayer:
. . .Although every field has suffered, cancer has had the greatest chasm between hope and reality. One in 20 prospective cancer cures used in human tests reaches the market, the worst record of any medical category. Among those that gained approval in the last 20 years, fewer than one in five have been shown to extend lives, life extensions usually measured in weeks or months, not years. . .Drug companies have been promising for years that gene-hunting techniques would yield targeted nontoxic therapies that melt cancer, but few cancer medicines fit that profile. . ."There are all these myths having to do with cancer drugs," Dr. Steven Hirschfeld, an F.D.A. medical officer with expertise in cancer, said. "That they're very targeted, when in fact all these drugs have multiple targets. That they're nontoxic, when in fact the latest ones have their own set of side effects. And that they're cures, when they are not."
This new compound is the first in a wave of multiple-kinase inhibitors. It's going to be very interesting to see how these molecules work compared to the earlier wave of more targeted therapies. Good luck to everyone involved - the researchers, the companies, and most of all, to the patients.
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