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Drug researcher details an alternative cancer treatment

Cancer drug researcher Swee Tan gives a lecture at Copthorne Hotel. PHOTO/HELEN HOLT




A public lecture about repurposed drugs was met with hearty rounds of applause this week.

Cancer drug researcher and former plastic surgeon Dr Swee Tan spoke to a filled hall of 200 people at the Copthorne Hotel.

He spoke about his trials to find an alternative cancer treatment.

His lecture ‘Old Weapons for New Battles’ detailed efforts made to produce novel drugs, which cost a lot of money. He compared it to a clinical trial on repurposed drugs.

Tan conducted a clinical trial using multiple drugs which are already available instead of paying for expensive drugs to treat Glioblastoma — a form of brain cancer.

The trial found an effective ratio of 3:10 for repurposed drugs, while novel drugs were found not to be nearly as effective.

Treatment with repurposed drugs would cost “next to nothing”. The trial participants’ life was extended by five months.

Tan said it would help fix “post code medicine” and make it available to everyone.

Novel drugs take 12 years to get on the market, versus repurposed drugs, which took three years.

Tan’s research was done through Gillies McIndoe research institute, where he is the founder and executive director.

The audience expressed approval in Tan’s lecture. One audience member asked how she could sign up for the trial. Others asked how they could donate to his research.

Tan was internationally recognised for his research into strawberry birthmarks.

His research started after he found blood pressure medication could be used to treat the birthmarks until they virtually disappeared. He found the birthmark’s cause was related to stem cells and applied this knowledge to use the same medication from the birthmarks to treat cancer.

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