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Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2013 May;6(5):371-4. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-13-0106.

Not significant but important.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Vice President Research, Rush University, 1735 West Harrison Street, Suite 206, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.


Armstrong and colleagues report the result of a large Phase IIb randomized trial evaluating the effectiveness of a preparation of the Bowman Birk Inhibitor compared with an oral placebo in reversing the extent of oral leukoplakia as measured visually by pathology or a battery of intermediate end points. In this editorial, we review the report of this negative clinical trials result to highlight the clinical trial process used in evaluating this previously promising chemoprevention agent. Publishing this report is important to address concerns with publication bias. The challenges in running a chemoprevention trial are reviewed with suggestions to enhance progress going forward. Conceptually, developing drugs to intercept the early stages of carcinogenesis is very attractive, but progress in this area has been slow. Two opportunities to overcome this reality are discussed. These measures include the broader use of neoadjuvant, window-of-opportunity trials with new candidate chemoprevention agents to get more textured information about the mechanistic impact of the drug exposure in previously untreated early tumor tissue. In addition, we discuss the use of new intermediate end point markers such as with optical imaging tools to obtain a more objective and quantitative assessment of drug response.

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