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Home News and Update Year 2010 Pill Dramatically Shrinks Cancer, Could Be Cure: Study

Pill Dramatically Shrinks Cancer, Could Be Cure: Study

Indian Express
17 September 2010
London, UK

IN A breakthrough compared to the discovery of penicillin, British scientists claimed to have developed a new gene targeting drug that they say could herald a new era in cancer treatment.

The pill, which rapidly shrinks the most deadly of skin tumours and has produced "spectacular" trial results, is the first cancer drug to harness knowledge from the full decoding of human DNA.

Known as PLX4032, the drug dramatically cut tumour size in 24 of the 32 men and women taking part in a trial. In two other cases it made the tumour completely disappear.

All the patients had late–stage malignant melanoma, in which the cancer had spread through the body, the Daily Mail reported.

Mark Wa lport, director of the Wellcome Tr ust, which played a key role in producing the first human genetic blueprint, likened the drug’s discovery to a "penicillin moment".

"Just as the discovery of penicillin opened the floodgates to an array of bacteria–fighting antibiotics, our ever–growing knowledge about DNA and its quirks and flaws is leading to the production of many more drugs like PLX4032," he said.

He said, "We have moved into a rational era of understanding cancer. This is about identifying the cancer, knowing what its changes are and being able to follow it in ways we could never have dreamt of before." Experts at the Wellcome Tr ust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, who developed the drug, said the sequencing of the human genome allowed them to pinpoint a genetic flaw in more than 60 per cent of cases of malignant melanoma — the most deadly skin cancer.

Their discovery led to the creation of PLX4032, which seeks out and destroys tumour cells carrying the flawed BRAF gene which causes the disease.

Professor Mike Stratton, head of the Cancer Genome Project in Cambridge who led the research team, said, "We’ve entered an end game in which we are going to complete our understanding of what causes cancer...We have the potential to sequence cancer genomes in their tens of thousands to find all the mutations within them."

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