Selected news articles which highlight important policy issues.


Ex-silver bullet re-aimed at cancer/Formerly hyped drugs that starve tumors show new promise in use with chemotherapy
Houston Chronicle, 5-16-05

Editor’s Notes:

We can’t acknowledge progress in cancer treatment without recognizing that new treatments have often failed to live up to their original billing. In the late 1990s, for instance, a new class of cancer drugs were all the rage. These drugs, designed to starve tumors of access to the blood vessels they need to grow, seemed to be the “silver bullet” cancer researchers had been hoping to find for decades.

Initial studies showed lackluster results. Further study, however, has found that these drugs can substantially enhance the effectiveness of traditional chemotherapies:

…anti-angiogenesis therapy based on starving tumors to death by choking off their blood supply has reappeared on the cancer-care landscape, and this time more realistic expectations figure to keep it around. …
Now used in combination with chemotherapy, the new treatment is making inroads against some of the deadliest cancers. Researchers reported impressive results from Avastin, the field’s star drug, for mesothelioma, lung, breast, and ovarian cancer. …

There is another lesson to be learned here: medical progress, particularly in oncology, is an incremental journey where small gains build up over years and decades. Ultimately, the accumulation of moderate successes in clinical treatment can turn out to offer more hope than any single “silver bullet.”

Project FDA.
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