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Basal cell carcinoma  (Source:
The drug, called Vismodegib, was first administered to a patient on January 23, 2007

A new skin cancer drug has been labeled "the greatest advance in therapy yet seen" by the New England Journal of Medicine.

The skin cancer drug, called Vismodegib, which is being marketed as Erivedge, is intended for skin cancer patients with advanced basal cell carcinoma. It blocks the Hedgehog signaling pathway and treats locally advanced and metastatic basal cell carcinomas. It can also treat basal cell nevus syndrome, which is inherited genetic susceptibility for large basal cell carcinoma development.

Vismodegib was tested by Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), Mayo Clinic and Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare.

Vismodegib was first administered to a patient on January 23, 2007. It underwent a Phase 1 clinical trial at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare, which partnered with TGen.

"The first patient put on this drug had advanced basal cell cancer, so we suspected that the tumor had the mutation this drug is targeted against," said Ramesh K. Ramanathan, M.D., Medical Director at Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials and Clinical Professor and Deputy Director of the Clinical Translational Research Division at TGen. "And our partnership with Dr. Ronald Korn and his team who did advanced PET imaging helped to really demonstrate the drug's efficacy for Genentech to continue pursuing the additional study."

The first phase was successful, leading to a Phase 2 clinical trial of basal cell carcinoma. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic headed this particular phase.

The success of Phase 2 led to Vismodegib's U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval on January 30, 2012. Vismodegib is the first drug to receive FDA approval to treat inoperable basal cell carcinoma. It only took Vismodegib five years to receive FDA approval, which is impressive considering most drugs take about 15 years to achieve this.

"It is a landmark day for patients with basal cell carcinoma and all those involved in their care," said the New England Journal of Medicine.

Source: Eurekalert

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I didn't get any of this
By amanojaku on 6/14/2012 12:41:30 AM , Rating: 5
Not this:
It blocks the Hedgehog signaling pathway and treats locally advanced and metastatic basal cell carcinomas.
Or this:
"The first patient put on this drug had advanced basal cell cancer, so we suspected that the tumor had the mutation this drug is targeted against,"
So I looked it up.

The Hedgehog signaling pathway plays a role in cellular and structural changes in the body. You develop from a fertilized egg to a human, or bird, or fly, etc... because of its interaction with cells.

The chemical was first discovered in flies, which led to experiments where the gene to create it was removed. The fly larvae developed shorter bodies and dense patches of scales, where they would normally be long with spaced rows of scales. The short, densely-scaled larvae were said to look like hedgehogs.

In normal cells, from embryonic to adult, Hedgehog encourages cellular differentiation. In cancerous cells, it encourages further mutation, or so the current thinking goes. The theory is the body is programed to kill cancer through cellular suicide (apoptosis), but cancer cells use Hedgehog to disable apoptosis. Disable Hedgehog, enable apoptosis. Cancer stops spreading, and maybe even dies off. Natural killer cells would eventually deal with the cancer that's left.

Side effects include
By BruceLeet on 6/14/12, Rating: -1
RE: Side effects include
By bobsmith1492 on 6/14/2012 6:51:53 AM , Rating: 5
Alternative to cancer drug: painful death
Alternative to pot: productive healthy life

RE: Side effects include
By mackx on 6/14/2012 7:27:47 AM , Rating: 2
that goes with alcohol too so the point is moot.

RE: Side effects include
By bobsmith1492 on 6/14/2012 8:04:10 AM , Rating: 3
That goes with alcohol too, true.

RE: Side effects include
By Kurz on 6/14/2012 9:07:57 AM , Rating: 2
Obama Was a aivid Pot smoker...
He isn't productive?

RE: Side effects include
By Kurz on 6/14/2012 9:18:05 AM , Rating: 2

RE: Side effects include
By testerguy on 6/14/2012 10:34:13 AM , Rating: 2
Key word - 'was'.

Would he be productive if he was STILL smoking pot?

RE: Side effects include
By Kurz on 6/14/2012 10:56:26 AM , Rating: 2
Yes... The effects of Pot last what 3 hours?
The rest of the time you are completely lucid.

RE: Side effects include
By GuinnessKMF on 6/15/2012 12:16:45 AM , Rating: 2
Uh.. I don't want the President of the United States to be anything but completely lucid 100% of the time. I'm okay with him having the occasional beer, but anything that could effect his decisions for even a minute would be too much.

It's a very minor sacrifice (especially compared to some of the other lifestyle sacrifices) to get to be POTUS.

RE: Side effects include
By leviathan05 on 6/14/2012 9:37:15 AM , Rating: 2
In that vein of thought, it seems odd to me that drugs that treat terminal illnesses are not approved faster. Seems like there isn't much worse alternative to slow and painful death, regardless of side effects. If the drug is shown to treat the illness, I say let people have it if they want to try it.

RE: Side effects include
By WalksTheWalk on 6/14/2012 11:17:09 AM , Rating: 2
That makes sense for those people who's bodies are ravaged by cancer and have months to live. In those cases, if they want to volunteer for last chance testing they should be able to.

In many cases the prime test subjects are not those whose bodies are full of cancer cancer and have only months to live. The prime targets are many times those in the earlier stages of cancer, so they still have multiple treatment options. Taking an experimental drug that harms them does them no good if there are other treatment options.

There's a balance to be weighed between the number of options a patient has, their likelihood of success and which experimental options make sense. To be sure, there are drug companies that would prey on people's hopes, make false assertions, etc. just to get them into their experimental testing, so some caution is required.

RE: Side effects include
By fic2 on 6/14/2012 11:41:03 AM , Rating: 1
Yeah. None of these pot smokers is productive:

Just more successful than anyone here...

Oh, and if you listen to music - thank pot for most of your enjoyment.

RE: Side effects include
By Natch on 6/14/2012 8:03:38 AM , Rating: 2
Side effects are all those reported during testing, not only by the people using the drug, but by the control group of people, who are given a placebo to use (with none of the testers knowing whether they have the drug, or the placebo).

It really is sort of foolish to report the "side effects" of the placebo group in with those of the drug, but that's the way the law is written, so they have to do it.

Personally, I will welcome any such drug, as it's likely just a matter of time before I'll need it. Too many years working outside, without appreciation (until recent years) for sun block.

Also, the fact that I lost my sister to melanoma, almost 3 years ago. I would not wish that on anyone!

RE: Side effects include
By JediJeb on 6/15/2012 3:51:37 PM , Rating: 1
Marijuana side effects include: hungry, happy, sleepy.

Forgot to add that marijuana smoke contains 50-70% more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than cigarette smoke. The THC mainly just affects the brain, but the smoke still is dangerous to the lungs no matter what plant it comes from.

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