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New drug is effective against the most common form of skin cancer

Noted TGen-Scottsdale Healthcare oncologist discusses vismodegib study at AACR

A new drug is effective in preventing new basal cell carcinomas in patients with an inherited predisposition to the disease.

These patients with basal cell nevus syndrome develop large numbers of basal cells, which can become locally invasive or metastatic, according to a discussion presented by renowned oncologist Dr. Daniel D. Von Hoff at the 102nd annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

In an initial study, Dr. Von Hoff and his team at TGen Clinical Research Service at Scottsdale Healthcare (TCRS) found that the drug, vismodegib (GDC-0449), a hedgehog pathway inhibitor, was effective in shrinking advanced invasive or metastatic basal cell carcinomas. TCRS was the first to evaluate vismodegib, produced by Genentech. TCRS is a partnership of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare in Scottsdale, Ariz.

At Sunday's conference plenary session, titled: "The Future of Cancer Research: Challenges and Opportunities," Dr. Von Hoff discussed a new prevention and treatment approach for patients who have basal cell nevus syndrome. Specifically, he discussed the effect of the drug on basal cell nevus syndrome, an advanced form of basal cell carcinoma that produces often-disfiguring tumors of the jaw, the sole of the foot, the brain and ribs.

A team of investigators from Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) in Oakland, Calif., headed by Dr. Ervin H. Epstein Jr., presented dramatic results at the conference demonstrating that vismodegib entirely prevented the development of basal cell carcinomas in patients with basal cell nevus syndrome.

These findings are "a stunning result, which brings hope to patients who otherwise may need disfiguring surgery, especially for cancers that arise on the face and upper part of the body," said Dr. Von Hoff, a past president of AACR.

"We are so pleased that the results obtained by TCRS could be a part of the work that has made a difference for so many patients," said Dr. Von Hoff, who also is Physician-In-Chief and Distinguished Professor at TGen; Chief Scientific Officer at Scottsdale Healthcare and US Oncology; and Professor of Medicine at Mayo Clinic.

Basal cell nevus syndrome is an inherited genetic disease, which results in the development of multiple, sometimes hundreds of basal cell carcinomas. The sporadic (non-inherited) form of basal cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer. While most cases are curable, in some patients there is a tendency for recurrent cancers and surgery may not be possible.

More than 15,000 physicians and researchers from across the globe attend the annual AACR conference, which runs April 2-6 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL.

About the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare

The Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare offers diagnosis, treatment, research, prevention and support in its facilities at the Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center, attracting patients from across Arizona and the U.S. Groundbreaking cancer research is conducted through its Scottsdale Healthcare Research Institute in collaboration with TGen and leading universities. Scottsdale Healthcare is the not-for-profit parent organization of the Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center, Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Medical Center and Scottsdale Healthcare Thompson Peak Hospital, Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center, Scottsdale Healthcare Research Institute and Scottsdale Healthcare Foundation. For additional information, please visit

Press Contact:
Keith Jones, Director of Public Relations
Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare
About TGen
The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. Research at TGen is focused on helping patients with diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes. TGen is on the cutting edge of translational research where investigators are able to unravel the genetic components of common and complex diseases. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities, TGen believes it can make a substantial contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. For more information, visit:
Press Contact:
Steve Yozwiak
TGen Senior Science Writer

Steve Yozwiak | EurekAlert!
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