Researchers have concluded the Phase I/II global clinical trial of a new type of cancer drug that can penetrate tumor cells and attack them from within. This “Trojan Horse” approach was employed in advanced, drug-resistant cancers and showed promising results in a small percentage of them.
The findings, reported in The Lancet Oncology, saw the tumors either shrink or stop growing in 27 percent of patients with bladder cancer, 26.5 percent of patients with cervical cancer, 14 percent of ovarian cancer sufferers, 13 percent of those with esophageal cancer, 13 percent of patients with non-small cell lung cancer, and 7 percent of those with endometrial cancer. Unfortunately, no changes were reported in men with prostate cancer.
The new drug is called Tisotumab Vedotin (TV for short) and the clinical trial was led by a team from the Institute of Cancer Research, London, and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. The trial initially recruited 27 patients to assess the drug's safety and the right dosage, and was then opened up to a further 120 patients. Responses lasted 5.7 months on average and up to 9.5 months in some patients.
“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,” lead researcher Professor Johann de Bono said in a statement. “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.”
The innovative approach is something that many have been waiting for. Despite incredible progress in the last few decades, there are several cancers for which treatments are not always successful, especially if they have begun to spread. This might be the start of a novel arsenal against these types of diseases. The team is already looking at the next steps.
“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,” de Bono added.
In 2018, 9.6 million people died of cancer, the second leading cause of death globally. The World Health Organization estimates that up to 50 percent of all cancer cases can be prevented.