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Basal cell carcinoma  (Source: health.uml.edu)
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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