June is a month of hope and inspiration for cancer patients and the medical professionals who treat them. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) holds its annual conference in early June. Companies report on clinical trials of their promising drugs in this forum. Several encouraging studies were presented during the conference this year and are briefly highlighted below.
Pfizer has a prospective drug for patients with advanced non small cell lung cancer called crizofinib which was promising in an expanded Phase 1 study. The drug targets just a small percentage of lung cancer patients, those with a specific alteration of the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene. The results are encouraging and dramatic because the drug stopped the progression of disease in 87% of the patients and reduced tumor size in 57% of this very targeted group of patients. An expanded trial is planned. This is another new targeted therapy as it is very effective on a very small group of patients.
In another study, the targeted therapy drug Avastatin (bevacizumab), which is manufactured by Roche Holding AG, helped to slow the growth of advanced ovarian cancer. In the study Avastatin was shown to extend the time that women with ovarian cancer survived without disease progression from ten to fourteen months. This improvement occurred when patients were given Avastatin with chemotherapy and when the women continued Avastatin for up to 48 weeks after the chemotherapy had ended. Robert A. Burger, MD, Director of the Women’s Cancer Center at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. said “Based on these results, bevacizumab can be used as an initial treatment for patients with advanced ovarian cancer and other related cancers.”
Avastatin works by starving tumors of their blood supply.
Bristol Myers reported encouraging results from ipilimumab, under development for prolonging the life of melanoma patients. Ipilimumab works by stimulating the body’s immune system to combat the cancer. Patients receiving ipilimumab survived almost four months longer than patients who did not receive this drug. According to lead researcher Steven O’Day, MD, Chief of Research and Director of the Melanoma Program at The Angeles Clinic and Research Institute in Los Angeles, and Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine. “These results are an important advance for patients with advanced melanoma.”
The source of the information in this post is from the conference highlights found on the ASCO website (www.cancer.net). Please consult your medical practitioner to confirm and verify the topics discussed herein.