New research presented today (Wednesday) at the European Cancer Conference (ECCO 14) in Barcelona found that giving the new drug in addition to chemotherapy more than doubled the amount of time patients survived without progression of their cancer.
The study, according to Dr Anthony Williams, vice president of clinical research at Synta Pharmaceuticals Corp. in Lexington, Massachusetts, USA, included 81 patients with metastatic melanoma. Of those, 28 received treatment with the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel alone and 53 received paclitaxel plus the new drug, STA-4783.
“The median progression free survival was 1.8 months in the group who got chemotherapy alone, but 3.7 months in the group who got the combination,” Williams said. “This doubling in progression free survival is impressive for this cancer, and the result was achieved without substantial additional toxicity.”
He added: “Progression-free survival was linked to improvements in overall survival. Patients on the experimental combination survived on average for 12 months after being diagnosed, while those getting only paclitaxel survived on average 7.8 months. This is the first time an improvement in survival has been seen in a randomised, double-blind, multi-centre controlled trial for metastatic melanoma.”
The drug is the first in a new class called oxidative stress inducers. It works by increasing the amount of reactive oxygen species (ROS), such as hydrogen peroxide and superoxide, in cells. When the level exceeds the antioxidant capacity of cells, the cells are in a state of oxidative stress. All cells have some low level of ROS, but cancer cells naturally operate with a higher level of ROS and oxidative stress relative to normal cells. However, too much oxidative stress for too long results in cell death. STA-4783 kills only tumour cells because the additional stress introduced pushes cancer cells, but not healthy cells, over the critical threshold. Melanoma is one of several cancer types that are known to operate at a higher level of oxidative stress.
The concept of cancer cells operating at a higher level of oxidative stress than normal cells has been around for many years. However, it is only recently becoming a greater focus of attention in the oncology field.
Metastatic melanoma, where the skin cancer has spread to other parts of the body, is difficult to treat. Current therapies either have limited power or are highly toxic. The average survival of patients diagnosed with advanced melanoma is about six months.
The study also indicated that STA-4783 might boost the efficiency of chemotherapy drugs that induce cell death, or apoptosis, because it appears to lower the hurdle for activating that process, Williams said.
“These results are encouraging not only because of the findings in themselves but also because there are so few treatment options for patients. We believe STA-4783 has the potential to improve survival with a manageable side effect profile,” he said.
“We also believe there is nothing unique about metastatic melanoma and that oxidative stress has the potential to be an entirely new class of cancer treatment that could have applications in other types of cancer,” Williams added.
A larger study of STA-4783 in melanoma patients across Europe is now under way to further investigate the drug’s potential. Synta, the drug’s developer, funded the study presented at ECCO.
Catalogue no: 7002, Wednesday 09.00 hrs CET (Room 113)
Emma Ross | alfa
Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy