New Cancer Drug Successfully Treats Six Different Types Of Lethal Tumors

A new cancer drug that reportedly infiltrates tumor cells has proven successful in patients with advanced, drug-resistant cancers such as cervical, bladder, ovarian and lung tumors. The patients, who had exhausted other treatment options, responded positively to the new drug.

The revolutionary new drug, called tisotumab vedotin (TV), discharges a toxic substance to kill cancer cells from within. The results have been overwhelmingly promising. Therefore, the drug has now advanced to phase II trials in cervical cancer and will also be tested in numerous solid tumor cancers.

Researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust conducted a phase I/II global clinical trial of approximately 150 European patients with an array of cancer types who were no longer responding to traditional treatments. The study, published in The Lancet Oncology, was funded by Genmab and Seattle Genetics.

Researchers observed positive outcomes in 27% of patients with bladder cancer, 26.5% of those with cervical cancer, 14% for ovarian cancer, 13% with esophageal, 13% with non-small cell lung, and 7% with endometrial cancer. The effects of the treatment lasted an average of 5.7 months, and up to 9.5 months in some patients. The most reported side effects were nose bleeds, fatigue, nausea, and vision problems, though researchers adjusted the protocol halfway through the trial to minimize vision side effects.

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TV is a toxic drug that is attached to an antibody, which targets a receptor called “tissue factor” that is present at high levels on the surface of many cancers cells and associated with poor survival rates. By binding to the tissue factor, the drug enters the cancer cells, killing them from within.

Initially, the trial enlisted 27 patients in order to evaluate safety and manage doses. The trial was then expanded to an additional 120 patients to determine if the drug was reaching its target and having a visible effect on tumors. Most patients had advanced-stage cancer that had spread locally or throughout the body. They had already received treatment and had become resistant to an average of three types of treatment.

“What is so exciting about this treatment is that its mechanism of action is completely novel – it acts like a Trojan horse to sneak into cancer cells and kill them from the inside,” said Professor Johann de Bono from The Institute of Cancer Research, London. “Our early study shows that it has the potential to treat a large number of different types of cancer, and particularly some of those with very poor survival rates.”

“TV has manageable side effects, and we saw some good responses in the patients in our trial, all of whom had late-stage cancer that had been heavily pre-treated with other drugs and who had run out of other options,” he added. “We have already begun additional trials of this new drug in different tumor types and as a second-line treatment for cervical cancer, where response rates were particularly high. We are also developing a test to pick out the patients most likely to respond.”

TV is now being tested on other cancer types such as bowel, pancreatic, squamous cell lung and head and neck, as well as in a phase II trial as a second-line treatment for cervical cancer. Biopsy samples taken at the beginning of the trial are being examined for expression of tissue factor on tumor cells to see if it can be used as a marker to choose patients with a greater prospect of responding to the drug.

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“We’ve seen major advances against cancer in recent decades, but many tumor types remain very difficult to treat once the cancer has begun to spread. We desperately need innovative treatments like this one that can attack cancers in brand new ways and remain effective even against tumors that have become resistant to standard therapies,” said Professor Paul Workman, Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London.

“It’s exciting to see the potential shown by TV across a range of hard-to-treat cancers. I look forward to seeing it progress in the clinic and hope it can benefit patients who currently have run out of treatment options.”

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