Hope for advanced ovarian cancer patients as half of women in trial respond to breakthrough new drug

  • A combination of vistusertib and chemotherapy stopped the growth of cancer
  • It cause some tumours to shrink in trials on 25 women with high-grade cancer 
  • Another 40 patients with non-small cell lung cancer were given the treatment 

A new treatment for patients with advanced ovarian and lung cancer could give them months longer to spend with their loved ones, early trial results suggest.

The combination of drug vistusertib and chemotherapy drug paclitaxel stopped the growth of cancer for nearly six months and caused the tumours of some to shrink, according to the study published in Annals of Oncology.

The researchers, led by a team at the Institute of Cancer Research in London and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said the findings show ‘promise’.

A breakthrough combination of drug vistusertib and chemotherapy has stopped the growth of cancers and caused some tumours to shrink in ovarian cancer and lung cancer patients 

The study tested the drug combination on 25 women with high-grade serous ovarian cancer and 40 patients with squamous non-small cell lung cancer. 

All those involved had advanced cancers and for each patient standard treatment had failed.

More than half of ovarian cancer patients (52 per cent) and a third (35 per cent) of lung cancer patients treated with the combination had at least a 30 per cent reduction in the size of their tumours.

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The treatment stopped both types of cancer from growing for an average of 5.8 months.

Professor Udai Banerji, of the drug development unit at the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden, said: ‘We combined chemotherapy with a targeted drug which blocks the way cancer cells react to treatment in order to survive. 

Out of all patients who had exhausted other methods of treatment, 52 per cent of ovarian cancer patients and 35 per cent of lung cancer patients saw a reduction in tumour size

‘What we saw was very exciting. Over half the women with ovarian cancer and over a third of lung cancer patients saw their tumours shrink – and these are patients who had exhausted all other options.’

The researchers developed the drug combination after noticing ovarian cancer cells resistant to chemotherapy have high levels of a molecule called p-S6K, which may help them to grow quickly.

Vistusertib targets two proteins which activate p-S6K. The scientists believe combining the drug with paclitaxel chemotherapy stops the cancer cells from being able to use the molecule to grow.

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