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Cholesterol Drug Plays Role in Melanoma Remission

NASHVILLE, Tenn., August 12, 2008 /PRNewswire/ -- A drug widely used to treat high cholesterol is helping beat cancer. Lovastatin is part of a new cancer treatment that has arrested or eradicated tumors in more than 80% of initial patients. The first person treated with the investigative protocol in 2000 had stage 4 melanoma; he remains disease-free today.

Lovastatin, the first of the statin group of lipid fighters, was introduced in 1980. Early studies revealed an unexpected side effect --- killing or impairing cancer cells in laboratory cultures. Excitement among cancer researchers subsided, however, when it appeared that humans could not tolerate the levels needed to affect tumors significantly. While some researchers are reconsidering the usefulness of statins to treat cancer, one Nashville physician already is seeing its success against some of the most lethal malignancies.

According to NeoPlas Innovation Director of Research Dr. Stephen Cantrell, "The key to moving beyond theory to success and survival in real patients has been finding the right medicine to combine with lovastatin. When we have administered a precisely timed regimen of low-dose interferon with lovastatin, tumors have begun regressing, sometimes within just a few weeks."

So far each NeoPlas melanoma patient has experienced results significantly better than those with standard therapy. Eradication of tumors or long-term stability has occurred in most patients. Others have seen a substantial slowing of progression.

Staff members expect the best results for several malignancies based on experience and relevant lab research to date. In addition to melanoma, these include pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, renal (kidney) cancer, mesothelioma, and a group of sarcomas, including osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma and malignant fibrous histiocytoma. The regimen is not expected to have significant benefit against brain tumors.

The most notable side effect is fatigue. Most patients never experience side effects commonly affiliated with chemotherapy or radiation (nausea, vomiting, hair loss, bone marrow suppression or immune system suppression). An experienced physician prescribes and monitors the outpatient treatment and maintains close communication with the patient's established oncologist. Patients are not ineligible because of previous treatments.

A Web site, , provides answers to common questions and a screening tool. Individuals can reach NeoPlas at 615-371-8100 or by e-mailing .

CONTACT: Dawn Bramblett, +1-731-989-8019, or +1-731-608-7650,, for NeoPlas Innovation

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Posted: August 2008