tnmynatt Posted June 6, 2009 Share Posted June 6, 2009 AURORA, Colo. (CBS) Researchers in Colorado are involved in a worldwide effort that's making big breakthroughs in the fight against lung cancer. The doctors involved are at the University of Colorado Cancer Center and they say they may have uncovered a treatment for the deadly form of cancer that kills 20,000 Americans every year. Although not a cure for cancer, a procedure called an ALK inhibitor could well be a way to control it. Medical oncologist Dr. Ross Camidge is among the researchers who stumbled onto the ALK inhibitor which, in a clinical study, makes cancer melt away. Camidge and others call it a once-in-a-lifetime discovery. It takes what has long been a death sentence and turns it into a chronic disease. "After only six weeks of treatment with the drug, this lung looks completely normal," Camidge told CBS station KCNC-TV . "There is no sign of the cancer." The center is among a handful of centers in the world involved in the research. Ila Hegland is part of the study. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 non-smoker's lung cancer 9 years ago and given 2 years to live. She survived on radiation and chemotherapy, then early this year her doctors at the University of Colorado Cancer Center took a closer look at her cancer cells. "By looking at the very genetics of the cancer, you can say 'This is what is driving the cancer in the first place,'" Camidge said. For Hegland, it's a miracle. "I have two small grandchildren. It's exciting to think that maybe I'll get to live to see them grow up," she said. Among the 23 test patients worldwide, she is No. 14 and the first in Colorado to respond positively. "Now we have a subset of patients that didn't have any hope with other medications and they are dramatically responding to this new drug," Dr. Marileila Varella Garcia said. Right now the testing and treatment is free, so doctors say lung cancer patients should see if they qualify. If the trials continue to be successful, Pfizer could develop a licensed drug in about 3 years. This discovery could ultimately help the university and other cancer patients, too. If the study shows personalized treatments are effective, researchers are more likely to receive funding for similar studies. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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