Information on Squalamine

James Metz, MD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

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Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
I would like to know if you are familiar the drug squalamine? Can you give me some information on it?  

James Metz, MD, OncoLink's Associate Editor and Complementary Medicine section Editor, responds:

Dear J,
Squalamine is obtained from the liver of sharks and commonly marketed as shark liver oil. There has been no proof in clinical trials that squalamine has benefits in the in vivo setting. A number of these types of drugs have been shown to have "anti-angiogenic" properties, which prevent the formation of new blood vessels that tumors need to grow. However, angiogenesis inhibitors have never been shown to effect tumors in humans. This is an area of research that is ongoing. If a patient is interested in these types of medications, they should only utilize them in controlled clinical trials so adequate data on toxicity and effectiveness can be obtained. Bypassing the route of scientific evaluation and offering a drug such as this to the public is irresponsible and dangerous. This just perpetuates the continued claims of effectiveness of particular agents against cancer without careful scientific investigation so all of humanity can benefit.

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