Vitamin A-Like Compound Fights Lung Cancer

In mice, bexarotene slowed malignancy by 50 percent, study found

TUESDAY, Jan. 24, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- A compound closely related to vitamin A shows promise in slowing lung cancer, according to studies in mice.

The compound bexarotene put the brakes on lung tumors in mice genetically engineered to be susceptible to the cancer, say researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Twelve weeks of bexarotene therapy inhibited the progression of malignant tumors by about 50 percent and reduced the number of total tumors by almost half, they report in an upcoming issue of Oncogene.

"Seeing this magnitude of response in such a strongly susceptible mouse suggests bexarotene is a potentially viable lung cancer prevention candidate," researcher Dr. Ming You, a professor of surgery and director of the Chemoprevention Program at the Siteman Cancer Center, said in a prepared statement.

The study also found that bexarotene doesn't cause the severe skin irritations that have limited the use of other vitamin A derivatives in cancer therapies.

"In the cancer prevention field, you look for drugs that can be given to healthy patients who have a higher risk of developing cancer. These patients wouldn't want to take a medication that makes them feel sick when they don't have cancer. So the drugs should be very well-tolerated and not cause harmful side effects," You said.

Previous research found that bexarotene extended survival in some patients with non-small cell lung cancer.

More information

The U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements has more about vitamin A.

SOURCE: Washington University School of Medicine, news release, Jan. 17, 2006
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