A new drug for lung cancer is being tried by researchers at Oxford. The treatment, which halts the growth of cancer cells, is being trialed on those patients who have stopped responding to chemotherapy. The trial is one of the first to go ahead at the Oxford Cancer Research Centre.
The trial’s principal investigator Dr Denis Talbot said they hoped the drug trial might increase survival rates for lung cancer patients. Animal studies that are mandatory before clinical trials have already been performed at Oxford University by the Cancer Research team. The investigations showed the drug worked on lung cancer cells.
Dr Talbot said it was “greatly encouraging” that the medication could be the basis for the trial. “Survival from this disease still remains low…One reason is that the majority, 65-75 per cent, of lung cancer patients are diagnosed when the cancer has already become aggressive, which makes it more difficult to treat successfully…There's an urgent need to develop new medicines which may provide additional options for these patients,” he explained. Dr Lesley Walker, of Cancer Research UK, said, “We have made progress in recent years to discover new ways to tackle lung cancer and this important trial brings further opportunities for this hard to treat disease.”
The experimental treatment aims to stop the growth of deadly tumors by blocking a protein that allows them to develop. Lung cancer sufferers are usually given a drug called docetaxel if their disease continues to develop after they have the standard chemotherapy treatment. In the new international trial, which has been tested in labs, one group of patients will receive docetaxel while the other will also receive the experimental drug, known as LY2181308. It is hoped that the new drug will block the ability of cancer cells to make a protein called survivin, which tells cells to grow and stops them dying.
Around 30,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer every year in the UK. Fewer than 10% of lung cancer patients survive the disease beyond five years after diagnosis. Non-small cell lung cancer accounts for about 85% of all lung cancer cases.