Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Long term optimism in research

Every so often another 'too good to be true' bit of cancer research comes along and all of us cancer people look at it and say 'could it help me?' and then we wait to hear more. A new drug has gotten through stage II trials where it has killed 90% of cancer cells - mostly solid tumors but some non tumor cancers. Well this sounds like all sorts of optimistic, wonderful news. So good that when I first read it, I thought it was something that was definitely in the 'crock of sh*t' category of cancer cures - and there are many of those.

So I started reading the fine print. First of all it is just entering stage III trials in Israel. It "... will be tested on a large number of patients (hundreds to thousands of individuals) in the Phase III trials. Once the drug has proved successful and passes each country's regulations, it may then go on the market in that country. After it reaches the market, there are two more phases to evaluate the long-term effects on patients and to further integrated it into widespread public treatment."

The fine print found between the lines - how many years will this take?  The article says may be 6 years from wide spread distribution. Phase III trials usually last 3-5 years I think. Then there are two more phases.... before it is widely available. Once drugs get through Phase III they usually start to become more widely available. Even during the trials patients may see them.

But if the research and clinical trials are done in Israel as opposed to the US. Were the Phase I and II trials done in the US at all? I looked on Clinicaltrials.gov and did not find them (but that doesn't mean they aren't there - just that I am inept online). Does this mean even longer here? And will it get through the trials and get FDA approval at all? It is not good enough to kill cancer cells if it ends up killing the patient in the long run.

So I will just sit here in 'watchful waiting' (to use the medical term) as my doctors do with my health and see what happens.

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