A potential new treatment for incurable bowel cancer has been identified by researchers.
The drug appeared to slow the re-growth of tumors in some people in clinical trials.
Researchers compared 44 patients who took the drug, adavosertib, to 25 patients who did not.
They found that it delayed tumor growth on average by about two months and had relatively few side effects.
The drug – which is taken as a pill – had the greatest effect in 31 patients with left-sided/rectal tumors, leading to an increase in overall survival, meaning patients lived longer.
Lead author Dr Jenny Seligman, from the University of Leeds, said: “The findings are particularly encouraging as the subset of patients involved represents a third of all bowel cancer patients, while other patients have no specific criteria for their tumor types. As treatments evolve, this group currently has very limited treatment options.”
The subset that participated had tumors with two common mutations, RAS and TP53.
The scientists had speculated that these mutations would make tumors more sensitive to the drug – which works by specifically stopping the growth of harmful proteins.
Importantly, the research suggested that adavosertib may benefit patients with other types of bowel cancer and may also work with standard treatments in other lines of therapy.
Now, after a clear breakthrough, he says the findings offer hope for patients – but also cautioned that larger trials are needed to establish whether the drug improves survival compared to standard treatment. Will be
Co-author Professor Lewis Brown, from the Clinical Trials Unit at University College London, said: “The results of the Advosertib arm of the trial are potentially important and represent a ray of hope for this group of patients.”
The findings come from a larger collaborative UK trial called FOCUS4, which aims to investigate the best ways to help people who have already received some chemotherapy.
Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and the second largest cancer killer. About 42,000 people are diagnosed with it each year.
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