[MOL] Hope in a Spray for Lung Cancer [00517] Medicine On Line

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[MOL] Hope in a Spray for Lung Cancer

MADRID, SPAIN -- October 14, 1999 -- Researchers have suggested new avenues of treatment for lung cancer victims through sprays of drugs which, if given as tablets, would cause severe side effects.

Researchers at the US National Cancer Institute, led by section head Dr. James Mulshine are currently testing a spray in leukoplakia, a pre-malignant mouth cancer containing anti-cancer agents. The details of this study were presented at the European Respiratory Society meeting, in Madrid, Spain. If this initial trial produces positive results the team will then try an aerosol containing a retinoid against lung cancer by the end of the year.

The retinoids, related to vitamin A, have been know to have anti-cancer properties for nearly ten years. But clinical trials have been inconclusive because of severe side effects, Dr Mulshine explained. An aerosol to the lungs would allow 100 times more drug to be delivered with only a tenth of the dose reaching the bloodstream.

Putting both factors together means you have a 1000-fold advantage of local drug delivery compared to a pill, according to the researchers.

Lung cancer treatment has lagged behind other malignancies such as cancers of the ears, nose and throat, as well as cervical cancer where local treatment at the cancer site has been very successful. But until recently it looked as if a similar strategy was not going to work against the pre-cancerous bronchial lesions found in 40 percent of smokers. Researchers need to target pre-invasive lung cancer before it spreads elsewhere in the body, but these do not show up on conventional X-rays.

So researchers have been using new investigative techniques such as spiral computerized tomoography and autofluorescence bronchoscopy.

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