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NEW HOPE FOR VICTIMS OF SKIN AND INTERNAL CANCERS

 NEW HOPE FOR VICTIMS OF SKIN AND INTERNAL CANCERS
 NEW YORK, June 22 /PRNewswire/ -- An experimental cancer treatment


being developed by a New Jersey corporation, Deprenyl USA, Inc., offers new hope for victims of skin and internal cancers. It involves no surgery, disfiguring radiotherapy or debilitating chemotherapy and it can be performed without even a hospital stay.
 The company said it may be the most exciting breakthrough in the treatment of a variety of cancerous tumors and lesions in 50 years -- and only a fraction of its potential has been realized.
 It is ALA Photodynamic Therapy (ALA PDT), developed by Dr. James Kennedy, Professor of Pathology and Oncology at Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, and Dr. Roy H. Pottier, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the Royal Military College, Kingston, Ontario. Their pioneering work in the treatment of skin cancer patients at Kingston Regional Cancer Center has been confirmed by researchers in Europe and North America. The first major study on the use of ALA PDT in internal cancer is being published today.
 Four researchers at the National Medical Laser Center at the Rayne Institute in London, England, applied the ALA PDT method to bowel cancers in a pre-clinical model.
 Joanne Bedwell, Alexander J. MacRobert, David Phillips, and Stephen G. Bown found the treatment destroyed cancer cells without significantly affecting normal tissue. Their findings, published today (6/22/92) in the British Journal of Cancer, show that "the potential for this technique is very considerable."
 In simple terms, the chemical ALA makes the cancer cells sensitive to light. When subsequently exposed to a strong light, the cancer cells are destroyed.
 "We do not know what the limits of the therapy are, yet," said Kennedy. "We do know that we can treat a wide variety of cancers, effecting a cure in some, reducing the life-threatening risk in others."
 Based upon pilot studies done by Kennedy, the most immediate use of the treatment appears to be in skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and pre-cancerous actinic keratoses.
 The therapy has also been successfully used to treat patients with surface nodules associated with lung cancer and breast cancer.
 Used for skin lesions, ALA can be applied to the skin either as a cream or by injection. After a period of about three hours, the affected area is exposed to a strong red light for a matter of minutes. The exposure to the light triggers a process which destroys the cancer cells and leaves healthy tissue surrounding the cancer untouched.
 In Kennedy's studies, superficial skin cancers treated in this way have disappeared without scarring or damage to surrounding tissue.
 "A light scab develops and new skin grows beneath," Kennedy explained.
 "After about three months, it is very difficult to tell where the cancer has been," he said.
 Other treatments, such as surgery, radiotherapy and cryosurgery, tend to leave permanent scars.
 "Patients have reported irritation, itching, prickling, or a burning sensation on the surface of the skin while the light is on," said Kennedy. Otherwise there are no known side effects, pain, or other negative reactions associated with the treatment.
 In the pilot studies, hundreds of superficial basal cell carcinomas (and actinic keratoses) have been treated using ALA PDT, with a 78 percent clinical success rate after one treatment. Deprenyl USA, Inc. plans to file its first Investigational New Drug (IND) application with the Food and Drug Administration by the end of the year, and clinical trials will start upon IND approval. It is also being considered for the treatment of psoriasis, warts, and other dermatological conditions.
 Dr. Phillip Casson, Associate Professor of Surgery, Department of Plastic Surgery at New York University, was invited to review Kennedy's treatments at Kingston. He was impressed enough to be treated himself for a skin condition.
 "It is a very simple way of treating various lesions, particularly multiple hyper-keratoses," said Casson. "In properly selected cases, it's going to be a major step forward."
 Even more dramatic than the immediate uses for the treatment, according to Kennedy, are the potential future uses for the therapy. "Our pre-clinical studies show that if you take ALA internally," said Kennedy, "one can treat tumors of the digestive system, respiratory system, bladder, male and female genitalia and a variety of other tumor sites.
 "If you can apply ALA and expose the tumor to light, you can treat the cancer," he said. "Sometimes you will be able to apply ALA but not expose the area to light. That is the only real limitation we can see."
 Important studies such as the one published today in the British Journal of Cancer will lead to clinical trials using ALA PDT for internal cancers, at a later date. ALA PDT may also be helpful in certain non-cancerous conditions, such as in women with excessive uterine bleeding, where it may be useful as a non-surgical alternative to hysterectomy.
 ALA may also be useful in conjunction with other treatments to diagnose some types of cancers early, to make some cancers susceptible to treatment with radiotherapy which otherwise may not be, and to make inoperable cancers operable.
 "This may be particularly so in the treatment of lung cancer, of which only about 15 percent are currently effectively operable," Kennedy said.
 Kennedy and Pottier have been working to develop ALA Photodynamic Therapy since 1977.
 A number of groups in Britain, Holland, Austria, Norway, Germany and the United States are currently working with ALA Photodynamic Therapy on various cancers.
 Deprenyl USA, Inc., a New Jersey based corporation, has acquired the exclusive worldwide rights to ALA PDT.
 Geoffrey Shulman, president of Deprenyl USA, Inc., said, "This therapy offers a potentially very exciting new treatment for a variety of cancerous and non-cancerous conditions. Although a number of other photo sensitizers are under development by other companies, we feel ALA PDT has some important and unique advantages which will make it the photodynamic therapy method of choice for many of these conditions.
 "Essentially it is more highly concentrated in the cancer cells compared to normal cells, and it kills individual cancer cells rather than attacking a tumor's blood supply. As the authors of today's article in the British Journal of Cancer pointed out, this gives a better chance to kill spreading cancer cells, and thereby completely cure the cancer.
 "Another problem with other PDT agents is prolonged sensitivity to the sun. With ALA, this is cut from weeks or months down to 24 hours.
 "In essence, ALA appears to solve many of the problems previously associated with PDT, and is therefore causing considerable excitement within the scientific community."
 -0- 6/22/92
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: Copies of today's British Journal of Cancer can be made available/
 /CONTACT: David Granoff or James Havey of David Granoff Public Relations, 212-307-6458, for Deprenyl USA/
 (DEPLF) CO: Deprenyl USA, Inc. ST: New Jersey, Ontario IN: MTC SU:


GK-LD -- NY004 -- 2230 06/22/92 08:31 EDT
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Date:Jun 22, 1992
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