ALS Drug Slows Melanoma Growth
Study Shows Riluzole Shrinks Tumors Without Toxic Side Effects
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Riluzole Lowers Glutamate Levels continued...
In animal studies, riluzole again suppressed tumor cell growth and
progression, she says. The researchers were then able to secure an NCI grant to
perform a new type of first-in-human study; it's designed to validate if a drug
will perform as expected in humans -- "to see if you are hitting your
targets," Goydos says.
"This is the very first time we have treated melanoma patients with drugs that target [glutamate] and a significant number
of patients responded," he says. The only significant side effect was dizziness, according to
Tumors Shrink, Even Disappear
Goydos says that he was amazed at some of the results. One of the first
patients "had a large growth in the groin area," he says. "When the
pathologists examined the tissue after the treatment, all they could see was
scar tissue -- there was no tumor. We thought there was a mistake."
Another patient had a "large painful lymph node on his neck and could
barely move his head. One week in, the node shrank, and he was very
comfortable, even without pain medication," Goydos
Other researchers are enthusiastic about the approach. "What is exciting
about these very preliminary results is that it is an outgrowth of a novel
observation that showed that melanoma appears to be dependent on
glutamate," says Stuart Lessin, MD, head of dermatology at Fox Chase Cancer
Center in Philadelphia.
"As far as metastatic disease goes, metastatic melanoma is very
recalcitrant to treatment. This really provides a potential new avenue, a new
target for treatment. [It] could work by itself or more likely in combination
with other treatments," he tells WebMD.
The next step will be a study of even sicker patients -- those whose disease
has spread to other organs, like the liver. The dosage will gradually be
increased to determine the most effective dose and identify possible toxic side
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