A new drug designed to counter the effects of an important, but very hard to target, cancer mutation could be effective against a range of tumour types including lung and gynaecological cancers, a new clinical trial shows.
Researchers used an innovative, intermittent treatment schedule to limit the drug’s toxicity, and found responses in over a quarter of patients with highly advanced and incurable cancers, including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), gynaecological malignancies and multiple myeloma.
The trial, led by a team at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, in collaboration with industry partners, showed that the experimental cancer drug could successfully target cancers in patients with mutations to the key KRAS gene.
The researchers found that the drug, now under development by pharmaceutical company Verastem Oncology, was safe for patients when treated using the intermittent schedule, with manageable levels of side effects. Verastem Oncology plans to initiate Phase II registration-directed trials before the end of this year.
The drug could also be used in combination with other targeted treatments, and is being tested in clinical trials for patients with lung cancer, multiple myeloma and other types of solid tumours.
“This research is an excellent example of academia and industry working together on highly innovative research to take forward a new treatment for patients,” Professor Paul Workman, Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said. “It’s promising that this drug could work against cancers with a broad range of KRAS mutations, which until now have been very hard to treat.”