Brain Cancer Vaccine Approved
Northwest Biotherapeutics, a US-based biotech company, said Monday it had won approval for commercial use of the world's first vaccine against brain cancer in Switzerland.
Toshiyuki Sakai said his team had found "alopestatin" reduced hair loss by 70 percent when used on rats also given etoposide anti-cancer drugs.
Etoposide is widely used to treat lung and other cancers but can cause hair loss.
Sakai, professor at Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, said his team was hoping to put the agent to practical use in the future.
"I want people to know that few studies have been made on reducing side-effects of anti-cancer drugs," he said.
"This field is lagging behind (the development of cancer drugs) but is still important for patients' quality of life."
The study, which was outlined at an academic meeting in Japan last week, is still ongoing, and the chances are "low at the moment" that alopestatin will be commercialized soon, he said.
No clinical tests are yet in sight, but one possible use for humans would be to apply it to the head in the period when hair loss is most likely to occur during chemotherapy, he added.
For women, brain tumors represent the 10th most common cause of cancer death, although they do not quite make the list of top 10 causes of cancer death for men. Brain tumors generally comprise about 1% of all newly diagnosed adult cancers.
Exposure to radiation has been linked to the development of certain types of primary brain tumors, especially if the exposure took place in childhood.
Although many chemicals have been shown to cause brain tumors in laboratory animals, there have never been any definite associations with chemical exposures proven in human beings.
Certain hereditary disorders can predispose someone to the development of certain brain tumors.