A new combination of drugs called VS-6766 and defactinib, which are targeted at women with ovarian cancer, has shown promising results with tumour shrinkage in more than half of phase one clinical trial patients.
The trial was led by a team at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and the results were presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology congress.
Twenty-five patients with low-grade serous ovarian cancer were tested with experts describing the results as ‘fantastic’ after more than 46 per cent of patients saw their tumours shrink significantly after treatment.
More encouraging results revealed a staggering 64 per cent of patients who had a mutation in the gene called KRAS also experienced shrinking tumours.
These results are significant in the cancer research community where until recently, KRAS-driven tumours have been extremely difficult to treat, making this new drug combination highly beneficial to thousands of women.
Those taking part in the trial were aged between 31 and 75. Researchers found that the participants lived for an average of 23 months before their cancer progressed to a more severe stage.
The chief executive of the ICR, Prof Kristian Heln said there would always be challenges within cancer research.
“Overcoming cancer’s ability to evolve resistance to treatment is a huge challenge for cancer research,” he said in a report in The Guardian.
Professor Heln said the study was an important step in finding highly-targeted treatment for those who have few treatment options.
“This study has turned a deep understanding of how cancer fuels its growth and develops resistance,” he said.
According to researchers at the ICR, the drug VS-6766 will remain active in the patient’s body for an extended period of time and can be administered in an unconventional, twice-weekly schedule to help minimise side effects and help the patients feel as comfortable as possible during the early stages of the process.
ICR Consultant medical oncologist Dr Susana Banerjee said that the trials would ‘represent a significant advance in low-grade serous ovarian cancer treatment’ if confirmed in larger trials.
“I am delighted that this drug combination has worked so well in a group of patients who are in urgent need of new treatments, including those who have previously been treated with a MEK inhibitor. We’re very hopeful that this could become the standard of care for women with low-grade serous ovarian cancer,” Dr Banerjee said.
The phase two trial is already in progress and researchers are hopeful that this could be a significant breakthrough in ovarian cancer treatment.