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New Drug Could Prevent Lung Cancer


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The link below will direct you to the website which has the article shown; and a video news report.

http://www.news8austin.com/content/top_ ... vid=40148&


Lung cancer strikes 170,000 patients a year in the United States and kills about that same number every year. It kills more people than cancers of the breast, prostate, colon and pancreas combined. Only about a quarter of patients are eligible for surgery to remove tumors.

Researchers at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville are enrolling patients in a new study aimed at finding pre-cancerous lesions in the lung and treating them with an investigational drug in an effort to prevent cancer. Those eligible are people who are current or ex-smokers and have smoked one pack of cigarettes a day for more than 20 years, or two packs a day for 10 years. The participants must be adults who have not already been diagnosed with lung cancer but are at risk for the disease.

Patients take three pills, two times a day of a drug called Iloprost -- marketed as Ventavis. It's a synthetic compound that basically mimics the activity of a natural compound called PGI-2. Cancer patients have low levels of PGI-2, while they have high levels of PGE-2. Iloprost works by boosting levels of PGI-2. In animal studies, doing so decreased incidence of cancer and also reduced tumor size.

These results were first reported by Dr. Bob Keith at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, who is now the principle investigator of the current study. In this new study, researchers hope the cancer will not to develop as fast and eventually prevent cancer from happening.

"Although in the last 30 years or so many efforts have been made to decrease the burden of lung cancer in the American population in treating this disease, we’ve not been very successful," Dr. Pierre Massion, a cancer researcher and pulmonologist with Vanderbilt, said.

Massion adds that because research has suggested lung cancer takes a long time to develop, there is a long window of time they have to potentially prevent it. That's where Iloprost comes in -- a "chemo-preventive" -- or disease prevention, technique.

"People take aspirin to prevent colon cancer from happening. There’s a lot of chemo-preventive strategies just for preventing melanoma from happening in avoiding sunshine. So this is not a new concept. But in lung cancer we really don’t have any tools to provide patients with a strategy along the lines of chemo-prevention," Massion said.

The Iloprost study is designed to determine whether at the end of six months of treatment Iloprost will reduce the number of abnormalities found in bronchial biopsies. Researchers won’t know until they have analyzed the 150 patients at six research centers around the country -- half of whom have been taking a placebo, or sugar pill, instead of the drug. Researchers are hoping to indeed find a reduction in the number of precancerous lesions. But knowing that lesions are reduced from it won't tell doctors definitively that the drug will go on to prevent cancer from happening. They will have to wait much longer to determine that, but if the lesions go down, Massion said that will be an important first step. He adds quitting smoking is still the quintessential aspect of preventing lung cancer.

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