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Last Week At Science-Based Medicine PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Harriet Hall   
Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo in medicine.  

Meet the new drugs, same as the old drugs? (David Gorski) “Targeted therapy” is the holy grail of cancer research, the path towards truly personalized treatment. But we’re not there yet. New genomic information is not easily translated into effective therapies, and new cancer drugs are as toxic as older drugs.  

Red Yeast Rice and Cholesterol (Harriet Hall) Red yeast rice is a natural medicine that effectively lowers cholesterol because it contains the same ingredient as prescription lovastatin. Only it doesn’t any more. Lovastatin has been removed from brands currently available in the US.  

Olympic Pseudoscience (Steven Novella) Bogus products intended to enhance sports performance are marketed with various pseudoscientific ploys: biased in-house studies, touting tiny effects as if they were significant, claiming real effects that are not specific to the product, etc. The BMJ looked at 104 products and found no convincing evidence to support any of their claims.  

NCCAM manipulates spinal manipulation (Jann Bellamy) A recent NCCAM publication on pain treatments wrongly classifies spinal manipulation as CAM. Chiropractic is alternative medicine, but spinal manipulation is not. It is a legitimate mainstream therapy when used for appropriate indications but not when it is used to treat the nebulous chiropractic “subluxation.”  

Journal Club (Mark Crislip) Journal clubs are a tradition of medical education where participants critique a high quality article with high potential clinical impact. Students need to learn how to critically evaluate medical literature, but it would be more educational to critique poor articles. CAM is a fertile field: a recent article on exercise and meditation to treat colds provides many lessons.        

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written by MadScientist, July 30, 2012
"Targeted therapy" is the Holy Grail indeed. 20 years ago a number of my colleagues had been working for over 6 years on designer cancer drugs. They were all very optimistic back then and for the next 5 years I watched them synthesize and screen on average about 6 drugs each per year. In 11 years and perhaps over 200 drugs tried there had been no success; cisplatin, despite the poor specificity and high toxicity remained preferable to the hundreds of potential drugs investigated. It's no easy task and every advance comes from an awful lot of work. Hopefully the idea of targeted therapy will become more than a mythical Holy Grail. Even in the past 10 years there have been a few remarkable drugs with excellent specificity and far lower toxicity, but these drugs have only been effective for a very small and specific types of cancer. People remain optimistic that similarly effective drugs will be developed for other cancers.
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