‘Dramatic’ drug trial results offer hope for cancer patients
Monday June 2, 2003
Early trials of a new cancer wonder drug have shown a “remarkable” effect in treating a wide range of the most common forms of the disease, scientists said today.
The experimental drug, which has been given the trade name Omnitarg, attacks even the advanced stages of breast, prostate, lung, ovarian, bowel and pancreatic cancers.
Also known as 2C4, the drug uses the body’s own immune system to fight the disease by targeting a signalling pathway common to many different cancers that stimulates tumour growth.
Scientists are excited about the drug’s possibilities for treatment because dramatic results were seen in preliminary trials, which are chiefly meant to test the safety of a new drug, not whether it works.
Dr David Agus, who led the trial at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles, said: “What’s interesting is that this drug effectively shrank tumours in several completely different types of cancer in early stage clinical trials. This tells us that the drug targets a growth-signalling pathway in cancer cells that is common in many solid tumours.”
In the study, 21 patients with advanced cancers received Omnitarg by infusion at three week intervals.
A total of 19 patients completed at least two cycles of treatment, and two died at the outset due to complications of their disease.
The researchers found that in 42% of the treated patients tumours either shrank by up to a half, or stopped growing.
Three patients achieved partial remission – one with ovarian cancer, one with prostate cancer and one with pancreatic cancer.
The ovarian and pancreatic patients remain in remission and have now been receiving Omnitarg for over a year.
Five additional patients – three with prostate, one with lung and one with ovarian cancer – stabilised for at least three months after two treatment cycles.
Dr Agus, who presented the results at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, said: “To see results that show activity in a safety trial is remarkable, especially since these patients were in the advanced stages of their disease and had no other treatment options open to them.”