New ovarian cancer treatment ‘highly effective at shrinking tumours’

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A new treatment for an advanced form of ovarian cancer is “highly effective” at shrinking tumors, according to researchers.

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The combination of the drugs VS-6766 and defactinib resulted in a significant response in 11 of 24 patients (46 percent) during the small-scale phase one trial.

It performed even better in patients with tumors driven by KRAS mutations, with 64 percent of patients responding to treatment.


The researchers said they were “delighted” with the results and suggested that if the results are replicated in larger trials it could mean “significant advances” in treatment.

The study was led by a team from the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

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This included patients with low-grade serous ovarian cancer, which is less common and develops at a younger age.

The ICR stated that less than 13 percent of patients with this form of the disease respond to chemotherapy and less than 14 percent respond to hormone therapy.

The patients who participated in the trial — who ranged in age from 31 to 75 — lived an average of 23 months before their cancer progressed.

ICR Chief Executive Professor Christian Helin said: “This study has changed the deeper understanding of how cancer drives its growth and develops resistance into highly targeted therapies for patients who currently have few treatments. There are options.

“Scientists have been working to develop treatments that can effectively target KRAS-driven cancers for decades.

“It is fantastic that early trials indicate that this treatment is highly effective for this patient group, and that phase II trials have already begun.”

Dr Susana Banerjee, also from ICR and Consultant Medical Oncologist and Research Lead at Royal Marsden’s Gynecology Unit, said: “If these findings are confirmed in larger trials, they could be beneficial in the treatment of low-grade serous ovarian cancer. would represent a significant advance.”

The researchers said the combination treatment worked in patients who had already received MEK inhibitors prior to the study.

A MEK inhibitor is a drug that can cause tumors to shrink, but stops working as the tumor develops resistance to treatment.

Dr Banerjee said: “I am delighted that this drug combination has worked so well in a group of patients who are in urgent need of a new treatment, including those previously treated with a MEK inhibitor.

“We are very hopeful that this could become the standard of care for women with low-grade serous ovarian cancer.”

The results were presented at the 2021 European Society for Medical Oncology Congress.

Additional reporting by the Press Association


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