Monday, October 22, 2007

Arizona company testing cream to prevent skin cancer

TUCSON - A company spun off from research conducted at the University of Arizona is testing a drug that's intended to prevent the formation of spots or patches on skin that can be a precursor of nonmelanoma cancers.The cream, Myristyl Nicotinate, has entered human clinical trials here. The product is a derivative of niacin developed by UA Cancer Center professors Mike and Elaine Jacobson.The Jacobsons, who are married, have spun off their UA-based research into Tucson-based Niadyne Inc., which has developed and marketed a number of niacin-based skin care products and is moving to introduce clinical products such as the anti-cancer drug. Niacin is a water-soluble B vitamin.
Mike Jacobson said that Tucson, with its abundant sunshine, high number of skin cancer cases and the resources of the Arizona Cancer Center, is the perfect place for Niadyne's research."It's a major issue for Arizona," he said. "This is by far the most common type of cancer."About 80 Arizonans die from nonmelanoma skin cancers per year, compared to 150 to 200 deaths per year from melanoma, said Dr. Lee Cranmer of the Arizona Cancer Center.Jacobson said Arizona ranks second worldwide, after Australia, for per-capita skin cancer incidence.The phase one human clinical trial of Myristyl Nicotinate that's now under way is to prove the safety and tolerability of the drug, Elaine Jacobson said.Twenty-five Tucson participants are applying the drug to one arm and a placebo to their other arm daily for 30 days, she said.After the safety and tolerability trials are completed and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, phase two trials will seek about 130 participants with active actinic keratosis lesions - the spots or patches that can develop into nonmelanoma cancers - to test the cream to see if it prevents the recurrence of the lesions on subjects after they have existing ones removed before the test, she said.The approval process will take time and money - an estimated $30 million to $50 million - before the drug is available for public use. "We hope that by 2010 this could be helping people," she said.

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