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OSI drug tested on tumors in kids

Al Musella's Comments: (This is his personal views and are not necessarily the views of the Musella Foundation!)


Posted on: 01/24/2007

OSI drug tested on tumors in kids

Newsday Staff Writer

January 24, 2007

A clinical trial aimed at defeating brain and spinal cancer in children is testing the effects of Tarceva - the prescription drug made by Melville-based OSI Pharmaceuticals - on a rare type of tumor.

Researchers at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., want to determine whether the Tarceva pill, in combination with radiation therapy tailored to each patient, can destroy tumors that start in the brain or spine of young patients.

Tarceva, or erlotinib, fights cancer by blocking a protein that helps tumors grow. The Food and Drug Administration already has approved Tarceva for use in certain lung and pancreatic cancers.

Dr. Alberto Broniscer, the principal investigator in the Tarceva study at St. Jude, said the drug's effectiveness in attacking certain cancers led the researchers to try it on gliomas, which represent only about 10 percent of all brain tumors that occur in children.

"It's a medication that is known to enhance the effects of radiation," he said.

So far, researchers have enrolled 17 patients with malignant brain tumors in the St. Jude trial; they have a target of 85.

"This is the first study to use this medication for this kind of tumor in children," Broniscer said. The patient in the study longest has been receiving the medication for about 21 months, Broniscer said, "with no tumor progression so far."

Broniscer said OSI and its California-based marketing partner for Tarceva, Genentech Inc., are supplying the drug for the study but aren't participating in the research. OSI spokeswoman Kathy Galante confirmed yesterday that the companies are supplying the pills to St. Jude.

OSI's stock closed at $33.59 yesterday, up 1.17 percent. The stock has tumbled since late 2004, when it reached about $75.

Copyright 2007 Newsday Inc.

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