Advanced melanoma kills the majority of its sufferers within a year, partly because there are so few medications that can help. But recently, a Massachusetts pharmaceutical company reported that early tests of an experimental skin cancer drug have shown promise, apparently slowing the spread of advanced melanoma.
Of the 81 participants in the two-year study, 28 received standard chemo medication, and 53 received the as yet unnamed new drug. On average, the latter patients survived without new lesions about twice as long as the former. The drug kills cancerous cells by essentially overwhelming them with oxygen; but it has no effect on healthy cells. Less than five percent of the new drug recipients had serious side effects.
Many more tests have to be done before the U.S. approves this medication, and the company, Synta Pharmaceuticals, is already planning another study with 600 patients.
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