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More on “Cyclopamine” (Corn Lily)
from Claire S. and Glen G.

Backstory:  A Fast Clearing Topical? from Natalie

[1] Ed: I read somewhere that Genentech is working with Curis on a topical cyclopamine drug with Hedgehog in the title. [Click here for Genentech’s web page on this drug, which, though it doesn’t mention cyclopamine, is being developed to treat basal cell carcinoma — a form of skin cancer. -Ed] It's in an early Phase I stage. 

Cyclpopamine was found to help clear up basal cell cancer in a small Turkish experiment in 2004.  The Turkish experimenters made their own ointment by dissolving the cyclopamine (from Toronto Research Chemicals)  in ethanol and then mixing it “with a base cream to a final concentration of 18mM.” (?)  They surgically removed the basal cell cancers after the cyclopamine trial and were able to see that over 80% was gone.  There were only 4 patients, ages 59 to 85. No adverse effects!  Reference is from European Journal of Dermatology, Vol. 14, No.2, 96-102, March-April 2004, authors: Sinan TAS, Oktay AVCI etc. 

The problem with the substance is that it can cause birth defects and will need lots of warnings and precautions because of that. 

My interest in cyclopamine was because of the basal cell use but aside from going to Turkey, or trying to make your own, it seems like it will take awhile to get it on the market here.  I sympathize with your urge to do it yourself.  I'd be tempted too if I knew a little more about chemistry and such!   Good luck! -Claire S.


[2] Ed:  With regard to Natalie’s query about cyclopamine: the compound has long been known to be a very potent teratogen. Without getting technical this means it poses a significant health risk, particularly to the potential children of women exposed to the drug.

Research into cyclopamine and compounds with similar biological activity continues, primarily as cancer treatments as well as therapeutics for other diseases. Unless/until researchers can find means to uncouple the risks from the benefits, an approved therapeutic for psoriasis based on cyclopamine or it’s ‘relatives’ is unlikely. I haven’t read the primary scientific papers upon which the news release is based, and it’s possible that the researchers have developed methods to limit exposure of the treated patients to the skin without any ‘leakage’ of the drug into the body general. If so, that’s a step forward. In the meantime, experimenting with home remedies produced from the corn lily is quite inadvisable. -Glen G.


Ed’s Response:  Based on this information, I readily concur that it would be premature for me to mash up my own corn lily plants to make a cyclopamine goop.

I wonder if cyclopamine is effective against P the same way methotrexate is?  Evidently they are both cancer-fighting compounds, which means to me they target fast growing cells.

In any event, it’s good to know the pharmaceutical community has taken an interest.  Things that grow naturally are too often considered unprofitable as free-market drugs.  Of course, to make cyclopamine safe, as Glen describes, could certainly jack up the price!  -Ed

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