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HIV Drug Might Fight Lung Cancer


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An interesting and hopeful development. Sept. 1: A drug used as part of a regimen to treat HIV also appears to kill cancer cells, researchers from the US National Cancer Institue report .


"Repositioning drugs that are already FDA-approved could accelerate the development of new cancer therapies."

At doses that are safe in HIV-infected patients, 3 drugs, protease inhibitors, blocked growth of non small cell lung cancer and every cancer cell type tested, the researchers found. One of the drugs is Nelfinavir (viracept).

Now in Phase I clinical trial to determine safest and most effective dose for cancer patients.

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National Cancer Institute is testing an already approved HIV drug, Nelfinavir, to see if it's effective against lung cancer. There is a story on this development today at www.aidsmap.com in the "today's news" section on the leftside of the screen.

The report is published in the Sept. 1 issue of Clinical Cancer Research.

The phase I clinical trial is open and proceeding well. I spoke with Dr. Perry today .They need 30-45 people with non small cell lung cancer who have already tried at least one round of chemo therapy. Prior radiation is not required. This would generally be those of us with Stage 3B or 4. NCI pays for travel to Bethesda and also hotel costs, meals if needed. They will do telephone screening. 301-435-5609 Arlene RN ; 301-435-5413 Cytnthia RN; NCI Protocol # 00436735

Nelfinavir for lung cancer.

From www.healthday.com : go to search "nelfinavir" for the Sept. 1 story:

From www.healthday.com : " The researchers hit upon the idea of testing nelfinavir and other protease inhibitors as cancer drugs, because these drugs block Akt, a protein essential for the development of many types of cancer, including non-small lung cancer.

In experiments with mice, the research team tested 6 protease inhibitors on non-small cell lung cancer and on 60 human cancer cell types from nine different kinds of malignant tissue.

At doses that are safe in HIV-infected patients, three of the drugs, including Nelfinavir, blocked growth of non-small cell lung cancer and every other cancer cell type tested. Nelfinavir was the most effective of all the drugs tested. It caused cancer cells to self-destruct or become stressed to the point of dying.

In addition, nelfinavir inhibited the growth of both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant breast cancer cells, indicating that it could be used to fight cancer cells that are resistant to common chemotherapy drugs. Nelfinavir may also be able to overcome resistance to radiation, the researchers reported.

Dr. 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.

I have 10 years of experience taking nelfinavir ...at the low dose for my HIV infection. Its been easy sideeffectwise for me...and that's why it seems especially hopeful. I would be interested in networking with anyone considering or on the nelfinavir/lung cancer trial. Thanks, Hank.

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The first is a link to trial to Boost immune system using this drug ACTIVELY RECRUITING for Tumours


second is CAncer research Link for trial for many cancers inc Lung cancer


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  • 3 weeks later...

I talked with NCI today. This phase 1 trial tests for safety and efficacy in nelfinavir. I have taken the drug at a lower dose for over 10 years...and I recently upped my dose to the dose the NCI is studying. There have been no side effects noticed. That is why I'm alerting folks to this hopeful treatment. In the mice study, and 60 cancer cell culture studies, nelfinavir, came out effective.

NCI tested the protease inhibitor class of AIDS drugs because they inhibit Akt, a protein essential for the development of many types of cancer, including non small cell lung cancer.

Nelfinavir was one of the miracle drugs used to make HIV/AIDS a manageable, not terminal condition. Its been used in humans for over 10 years and has been popular because of its low side effect profile. We are lucky it may have efficacy against non small cell lung cancer.

The docs and nurses at NCI are friendly and welcome questions. NCI will pay for transport no matter where you are coming from, after the initial visit. They can screen over the phone. Hank

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Hi Hank,

I tried sending you a pm. My dad is now considering this clinical trial. Could you let me know your experience with this drug? We think he qualifies. We spoke to the nurse the other day and his oncologist at Hopkins thinks that it might be worth a try rather than going with Gemzar that they don't think will work. Any additional info would be appreciated.


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Thanks Randy. We spoke with the nurse up there again today. It looks like as long as he is cleared when he gets up there, he's going to try it. They said that so far they've had 1 success out of 7 patients. Dad is itching to get started ASAP. They are screening someone tomorrow. If she gets in, dad has to wait 2 to 3 weeks for the next slot. If she does not qualify he will be the next slot if he qualifies. Looking at the preliminary report they think he does qualify. Keeping everything crossed :wink: Hey, if this doesn't work they are doing a trial with misletoe :shock: and Christmas is coming :lol:


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I've been on a "low dose" of nelfinavir for over 10 years as part of my AIDS treatment. It has been very easy with only "surprise diarrhea" being a noticeable side effect. You think you are going to pass gas, but instead its a little fluid. Not often, but when I first started I would take an extra pair of pants if I hiked, or visited friends out of my city. This problem went away over time and last year it happened 1-2 times at most.

I checked with National Cancer Institute and found I wasn't eligible for their phase 1, safety,dose escalation trial because of my previous experience with nelfinavir. I decided to experiment on my self because I had extra supply of drug. I increased my "normal low dose" by 50% for two weeks. No problems noted. I then increased my "normal low dose" by 100% and its been one week at that dose. Only problem: one day I had lots of watery stools/diarrhea during a 2 hour period. Luckily it wasn't "surprise" diarrhea. That was 5 days ago. I hope to do another week at this increased dose. My oncologist is aware of my "experiment" and I see him in 3 weeks to evaluate next steps.

As far as my lung cancer symptoms, I notice some capacity issues when I bike, swim, run, and walk. I am definitely not up to normal, but also not ready for other fall back options yet...targeted therapies, chemo, radiation.

we compared my May scan with a Sept scan and saw no new areas and minimal increase in a couple of chest nodes. I opted to increase the nelfinavir because I have tolerated it so well in the past. Totally aware that it is a gamble....but seems like that's a given even with the standard options to date.

I am hopeful about drugs/treatments in the pipeline. I currently prioritize quality of life

but am willing to endure harsh treatments if needed in the future.

The NCI report that one of the nine participants had already seen a response was hopeful. And that is with a relatively low dose of nelfinavir.

Keep us posted if you participate in the trial.

I'm letting NCI know about my experiences. Every clue helps. Thanks, Hank

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Thanks Hank!!

Any info is so appreciated. He has an appointment to be screened Tuesday the 9th. So far, so good so I hope he gets in. Unfortunately teh other woman didn't get it so he's next for the slot. Please keep me updated on your progress......prayers for good results!


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Hi Guys!

Dad was accepted into the trial today! Everyone was just wonderful there according to my parents. They also said that if this didn't work they would try to get him into other clinical trials there or at other leading hospitals. Apparently he is # 6 in the trial. It did not work for the first 4 people and the 5th one is getting scanned for results sometime this week. Dad is the first one to get 33% more of the drug so hopefully he will do well with it. I've learned that sometimes you get locked into thinking that the hospital you are getting treatment at (for us it was Hopkins) has all of the information you need but sometimes its ok to go swimming in another pool and checking out the water temperature elsewhere :) We have HOPE again and that is the best gift of all!


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  • 1 month later...

Hi All,

Well, first a big thank you to Randy and Hank for the information regarding this clinical trial. Oh, and a huge thank you to Katie for this board, without you, we would never have had the information. A big thank you to Kasey for the info on NCI at NIH! Dad has his first scan today after 2 months on the drug and he is stable! He is the first lung cancer patient to show stability. What a christmas gift! He will get scanned again in 2 months. Right now, I just pray to God for little miracles and being able to have the holidays without the "C" word is the biggest gift of all right now. When my mom called from the hospital and said the word "STABLE" you could've knocked me over with a feather! Wow, still processing....

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