UK lung cancer trial results remarked as “exciting” by researchers.
Chemo-targeted drug combination that is being trailed by UK researchers has shown promise in patients with advanced ovarian or lung cancer where all other treatments have failed.
The study was led by a team at The Institute of Cancer Research, based in London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, who noticed that tumours shrank with the used combination of vistusertib and paclitaxel, in over half of patients with ovarian cancer and over a third with lung cancer, and stopped some tumour growth for nearly six months.
“This far exceeds what is expected with standard treatments in patients with advanced diseases who have already had, and have now become resistant to standard treatment,” according to an ICR press release.
The researchers first tested the safety of the combination, and found it to be well tolerated with manageable side-effects. The study also looked at its effectiveness and found that 52% of the ovarian cancer patients and 35% of the lung cancer patients had a reduction of at least 30% in the size of their tumours.
Additionally, for each of these cancer types, which had become resistant to all other varieties of available treatment, including chemotherapy, the combination was found to have stopped cancers cells growing for an average of 5.8 months.
Research by the ICR found that chemotherapy-resistant ovarian cancers typically have high levels of p-S6K, which facilitates cancer growth and may help cancer resist the effects of chemotherapy. Vistusertib targets mTOR1 and 2 proteins which ‘turn on’ p-S6K. The researchers believe that by combining vistusertib with paclitaxel chemotherapy, the cancer cells can’t use p-S6K to grow and resist chemotherapy.
“Drug combinations hold huge promises for tackling cancer’s adaptation, evolution and drug resistance, just as they have in other areas of medicine such as HIV. Still, it is essential that we choose which drug combinations to test out in trials rationally based on our scientific understanding of what will work,” said ICR chief executive Professor Paul Workman.
“This study is a perfect example of a rational drug combination, selected because of scientific observations made here at the ICR which found that resistant ovarian cancer cells seemed to rely on a particular protein for their survival after chemotherapy.”
The study was published in Annals of Oncology and funded by AstraZeneca.