FDA approves drug for patients with advanced kidney cancer


December 21, 2005|By CHICAGO TRIBUNE

CHICAGO -- A drug for use in treating patients with advanced kidney cancer won government approval yesterday.

The Food and Drug Administration said the drug, Nexavar, is a significant step forward. The current standard treatment for kidney cancer - immune therapy with interferon or interleukin-2 - has modest benefits and can be extremely toxic.

Nexavar, developed at the University of Chicago, has few side effects, and some patients who started taking it more than two years ago are doing well, researchers said yesterday.

Nexavar is among a new generation of anti-cancer drugs made possible by advances in molecular biology. Called targeted therapies, they attack specific features of the cancer cells and generally spare the body's healthy cells. Conventional chemotherapy attacks all rapidly dividing cells, including those in the mouth and the stomach lining. As a result, chemotherapy patients generally suffer severe side effects including nausea, vomiting and hair loss.

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