Clinical Trials Results Indicate New Ways to Use Drugs
To Treat Breast Cancer
The results from several clinical trials, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in New Orleans last week highlight research progress that spans the continuum of breast cancer - from prevention to reducing the risk of recurrence to treating advanced disease. The trials included exploring new hormonal therapies that may reduce cancer risk, developing alternatives to tamoxifen in the adjuvant setting, and optimizing chemotherapy dosing schedules.
One of the most significant findings pertains to decreasing the dosing interval for the chemotherapeutic agent, paclitaxel (Taxol), for women with metastatic breast cancer. The trial, conducted by the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB), a Cooperative Group funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), examined the effects of weekly administration of paclitaxel versus the standard 3-week schedule on tumor response and delay of disease progression.
Forty percent of patients who received paclitaxel weekly responded to treatment compared with 28 percent of patients on the standard regimen. Disease progression was 9 months with weekly chemotherapy versus 5 months with standard chemotherapy. Read more
Charting Our Progress: Targeted Therapies Coming into Their Own
The words "targeted therapy" were on everybody's lips last week at the 40th annual ASCO meeting. And with good reason. Encouraging results were reported in a number of clinical trials, proving that we are making progress in our efforts to attack cancer at its most fundamental levels.
In one phase III trial, for example, use of the investigational agent erlotinib (Tarceva) - which, like the recently FDA-approved gefitinib (Iressa), targets the epidermal growth factor receptor - improved survival in patients with advanced lung cancer. In another phase III trial, bortezomib (Velcade), which inhibits the proteasome pathway and affects both cancer cell proliferation and stability, significantly improved 1-year survival in multiple myeloma patients who had relapsed or become resistant to standard therapies. And several earlier stage trials involving the investigational anti-angiogenesis drugs SU11248 and BAY 43-9006, both of which are multitargeted agents, also demonstrated promise in treating metastatic renal cell carcinoma.
Other studies shed light on additional avenues of treatment, such as combining new therapies. One intriguing combination therapy that had positive results in metastatic renal cell carcinoma was the use of erlotinib and the vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitor bevacizumab (Avastin), which was recently approved by the FDA. Read more