(dailyRx News) Chemotherapy usually is most effective in attacking and killing fast-growing cancer cells. That's why it's not particularly useful in treating slow-growing ovarian cancers. Researchers are working to overcome this.
Scientists have successfully used a targeted therapy - selumetinib - to go after a protein and pathway that are often altered in low-grade serous ovarian cancer. The therapy was effective in most of the patients who received it.
Ovarian cancer is traditionally treated with surgery, which is typically followed up with chemotherapy. The disease, however, doesn't' respond well to traditional chemo regimens.
A group of Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) researchers, led by John Farley, M.D., sought to find a more effective approach.
Researchers worked with 52 women with ovarian cancer, who were given 100-mg doses of oral selumetinib twice daily in four-week cycles.
A third of these women underwent 12 or more cycles. The majority of patients (58 percent) had already had three or more rounds of chemotherapy before the study.
Dr. Farley, who is a professor at Creighton University School of Medicine at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska, calls the results "striking":
- 81 percent of patients had significant response to selumetinib.
- Eight patients had complete or partial responses.
- The disease was stabilized (it didn't get worse) in 34 women.
- The median time without progression was 11 months.
- 63 percent of women had no progression of the disease for more than six months.
- The patients did well with the drug, with only three women having very serious side effects.
"This is a very exciting finding" Ernst Lengyel, M.D., Ph.D., told dailyRx.
"It is translational science at its best: insight on low grade ovarian cancer obtained in the laboratory where successfully transferred to the 'bedside” providing new treatments that really target the tumor," said Dr. Lengyel, who is professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of Chicago.
He concludes, "So I think this is a great advance for the treatment of low grade ovarian cancer which so far has been quite chemo-resistant."
This research was presented at the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2012, held March 31-April 4.
Findings are considered preliminary until published in peer-reviewed journals.
The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute.