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    Post: Reuters~Sporonox antifungal ~ fighting cancer

    Posted by Sharon on 4/14/10

    Cheap antifungal drug may fight cancer: study

    Mon Apr 12, 6:58 pm ET
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) A common antifungal drug can slow
    tumors growing in mice and should be investigated as a
    potentially cheap and easy way to fight cancer in people,
    researchers reported on Monday.

    Although it did not completely wipe out the tumors, the
    drug called itraconazole may boost the effects of other
    drugs, the researchers reported in the journal Cancer Cell.

    Itraconazole is marketed under the brand name Sporanox by
    Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutica, mostly
    for treating a fungal infection called aspergillus.

    The drug affects a so-called cascade of effects through a
    molecular pathway called Hedgehog, the researchers reported.

    The researchers at Stanford University in California were
    looking for potential cancer drugs. They know that the
    Hedgehog pathway is involved in the development of cancer,
    so they looked for drugs that interfere with it.

    "There is a fairly broad range of tumors in which this
    molecular cascade, called the Hedgehog pathway, plays an
    important role," Stanford's Philip Beachy, who worked on
    the study, said in a statement.

    "The virtue of screening existing drugs is that you already
    have all the information about dosage and toxicity, and you
    can move into clinical trials fairly readily."

    The researchers looked at 2,400 different drugs in a so-
    called library of drugs that had either been tested in
    people or already approved by the Food and Drug
    Administration, looking at the mechanism of action. The
    least toxic one they found was itraconazole.

    "Itraconazole has been studied for nearly 25 years, and we
    therefore have a good understanding of its safety and
    potential side effects," the researchers wrote.

    They tested mice and found an oral solution of itraconazole
    significantly slowed the growth of tumors injected under
    the skin. Untreated mice grew giant tumors during the same
    time and were euthanized.

    Testing mice this way is far different from the natural
    development of cancer in people, but the drug should be
    tested in cancer patients, the researchers said.

    "It might be possible with two compounds to achieve a more
    potent block at even lower drug concentrations," said
    Beachy. "If so, it's possible that there is a population of
    patients that can be treated relatively soon."

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