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Isotretinoin is a drug commonly used to treat severe acne, it may also be referred to by it's brand names Roaccutane® and Rizuderm®.
Isotretinoin can have serious and dangerous side effects including severe depression, pancreatitis, liver and kidney problems and serious skin rashes. It is also important that women do not take isotretinoin if they are pregnant and do not become pregnant within one month of taking it as it can harm the unborn baby.
NICE do not recommend isotretinoin as a treatment for brain tumours. It is important to speak to your healthcare team before taking any new medications or making changes to your current brain tumour treatment.
Scientists discovered that isotretinoin is related to a type of molecule that appeared to affect the growth rate of cancer cells. Trials were conducted in the 1990s to see if the drug could lengthen survival in patients with a brain tumour which were unsuccessful.
Following advances in technology which allow scientists to identify tumour characteristics, they were able to identify a relationship between a gene called IDH1 (found in a high percentage of low grade tumours) and the ability of isotretinoin to prolong survival. Further trials took place which unfortunately did not show any benefit to brain tumour patients and the research was stopped. You can find out more about the research here.
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