Press review

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Promising results for Spanish researchers with 'old' drug in brain metastases

Country : Spain, UK, Africa

Keywords :
MADRID, 15 June (APM) - Researchers from Spain’s National Centre for Oncology Investigation (CNIO) have found that an ‘old’ medicine has potential to reduce or even eliminate brain metastases in cancer patients, it was widely reported on Tuesday.
A new alternative to surgery, radiotherapy and the newest immunotherapies has emerged with the use of silibinin to reduce brain metastases “without any side effects”, daily ABC reported.
The newspaper quoted lead researcher Manuel Valiente as saying: “Taking into account all relevant considerations for a trial on compassionate use, such as ours, we have proved that brain metastases can be successfully treated. Besides, the treatment we assessed could be valid for any other brain metastases, regardless of the tumour which originated them”.
Valiente’s team have published their work in Nature Medicine. They have been studying brain metastases for several years, focusing in particular on two elements: a population of cells known as astrocytes, which respond to damage by entering into a reactive state and which are associated with metastases; and the STAT3 gene, which has already been proved to be involved with brain metastases, ABC reported.
These results will need to be confirmed in bigger trials before the drug can be used in clinical practice, the daily cautioned.
The Spanish edition of The Huffington Post carried the headline: “Spanish researchers tripled survival in brain metastases”, and emphasised that the team is looking for investors to fund further research in this field.
Dailies El País, La Vanguardia, El Español and Europa Press agency also carried the story on Tuesday.

’Rivotril mobs’ make millions

On Sunday, daily El País carried a lengthy story about trafficking of Roche’s central nervous system drug Rivotril (clonazepam), obtained in Spain with stolen prescriptions and later sold in Morocco, in a business which earns mobs €100 million annually.
Tens of thousands of prescriptions stolen from public healthcare premises contribute to this business. In Madrid region, this illegal use has increased prescriptions of the drug by a steep 113%. The medicine is combined with cannnabis resin and sold by drug dealers at 100 times its original price in a cocktail known as karkubi, El País reported.
A 60 tablets at 2 mg package of Rivotril is the favourite option for mobs because it contains the highest amount of active principle. It is sold at €1.08- €2.70 in community pharmacies in Spain. In Morocco it can cost from €200 to €300, police sources told the daily. Eventually, each adulterated tablet can be sold for €5- €8, according to the chief inspector for Consumption, Environment and Doping at the National Police, the newspaper added.
Pharmacists told El País that when a suspicious client is detected, they ask their name, the name of their doctor and additional questions, because those holding stolen prescriptions tend to flee when they feel under scrutiny. Sometimes, pharmacists say they do not have it in stock. “However, one cannot be too cautious, because for those who really need it, Rivotril is very important, and we must not take the risk of denying patients their medicine,” one of them told El País.

CRISPR gene-editing therapy linked to increased cancer risk

Two new studies suggest CRISPR gene-editing therapies are more efficient in mutation-prone cells and may therefore increase the risk of developing cancer, daily El País reported on Thursday.
With the headline “Star gene-editing technique can increase cancer risk”, El País reported that the deaths of two patients treated with this technique in 1999 and 2000 had delayed the approval of these therapies for more than a decade. Both died from leukaemia.
Now, two new studies published in Nature Medicine, one of them by researchers from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and a second by Novartis researchers, have suggested CRISPR can be linked to increased cancer risk, El País added.

Cooperation needed to avoid hard Brexit - Spanish pharma lobby

Spanish branded pharma lobby Farmaindustria has proposed intensifying cooperation with the UK as a way to avoid the potential effects of a hard Brexit on R&D, supplies and access to new medicines, financial El Economista, Europa Press agency and a number of medical journals reported on Thursday and Friday. (APMHE 58517)
El Economista quoted Icíar Sanz, head of international affairs of Farmaindustria, as saying cooperation and regulatory convergence “at the maximum level” will be needed to avoid problems in access to medicines and shortage of supplies after Brexit.
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