When animal researchers tested a newly discovered substance, psicofuranine, for anti-cancer activity, they found contradictory evidence in rats and mice.1 The drug proved active against several tumours in laboratory rats but had no effect on 3 different cancers in mice. Unfortunately doctors could not properly assess the drug against human cancer since psicofuranine produced severe and unexpected side-effects in early human trials, thus terminating any further investigation in people. The drug damaged the heart yet no cardiac toxicity had been found in mice, rats, dogs or monkeys.1
Although clinical study of psicofuranine was abandoned, further animal experiments were carried out in an attempt to reproduce the heart problems seen in people. Once again, no cardiac toxicity could be observed even when dogs and monkeys were given 5-10 times the harmful human dose.
1) C.G.Smith et al, Journal of International Medical Research, 1973, vol.1, 489-503.
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