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Roche, Curis Drug Prevented Lesions, Reduced Tumor Size in Trial

Roche Holding AG and Curis Inc.’s experimental drug shrank tumors and prevented new lesions in a clinical trial of skin-cancer patients with a rare inheritable disease.

Patients given the medicine, known as vismodegib or GDC-0449, had fewer basal cell carcinomas than those who received a placebo, according to a statement from the American Association for Cancer Research conference in Orlando, Florida. The size of existing tumors “decreased significantly” for those getting the drug, while carcinomas were “essentially unchanged” for patients who got placebo, researchers said.

The 41 patients in the trial had basal cell nevus syndrome, a disease that leads to a higher risk of skin cancers. Side effects, including loss of taste, muscle cramps and weight loss, caused 20 percent of patients to discontinue the drug.

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