Selected news articles which highlight important policy issues.


Let There Be Light.
Forbes, 4-11-05

Editor’s Notes:

Cancer drugs are by definition toxic. In fact, some of the very first cancer drugs were derived from a fearsome chemical weapon (mustard gas) used in the trenches of World War I.

Consequently, cancer oncologists face a deadly dilemma: how to use chemotherapy to kill cancer cells without killing the patient first. Researchers are addressing this problem by designing targeted cancer treatments—the medical equivalent of a precision-guided “smart bomb.” Some targeted drugs (like Gleevec) attack genetic abnormalities in cancer cells while sparing healthy organs and tissues. Other treatments use novel delivery methods to inject their fatal payloads directly into tumors. An example of this technology is a new prostate cancer drug called Tookad.

[Tookad, Hebrew for light] is an innovative twist within the established cancer drug class called photodynamic therapies. These drugs work their way through the bloodstream but become toxic only when exposed to light. When doctors shine a laser onto either the skin or an internal tumor using catheter-inserted optical fibers, the drugs kill just the illuminated tissue and leave unexposed tissue relatively undamaged.

Tookad may represent an advance over current photodynamic drugs since it “degrades easily in the liver and exits the body within hours.” According to one researcher studying the drug, “[Tookad] is one of the most promising treatments for recurrent prostate cancer after radiation I’ve ever seen.” Clinical trial results for Tookad should be available early next year.

Project FDA.
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