Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The Poison is the Antidote

A form of the deadly poison arsenic that is used as a weedkiller could be used as an alternative to chemotherapy for cancer patients, according to research published today.

Arsenic trioxide is already used on patients who suffer a relapse after initial treatment for a rare type of leukaemia.

But Iranian scientists said that the compound should be considered as a first-line treatment for patients with acute promyeloctytic leukaemia (APL) instead of putting them through chemotherapy.

The researchers added that arsenic trioxide could also be used to treat other cancers such as multiple myeloma, which affects the bone marrow.

The researchers, from Tehran University of Medical Sciences, have been running trials on patients newly diagnosed with APL who had received no previous therapy.

After two courses of arsenic trioxide, more than 90% of the 63 patients were in complete remission.

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