A new cancer drug that acts as a “Trojan horse” to get inside cancer cells has shown promise in patients with advanced drug-resistant cancers. Patients with six different cancer types including those with lung, ovarian, cervical, and bladder tumors have responded positively to the new drug. The drug could extend the lifespans of the patients who have already exhausted their other treatment options and the drug is expected to be commercialized within the next five years. The innovative new drug is known as tisotumab vedotin (TV), which releases a toxic substance to kill cancer cells from within. Based on the positive results, the drug has now moved forward to phase II trials in cervical cancer and will be tested in for other solid tumor cancers. A team at The Institute of Cancer Research, London and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust conducted the phase I/II global clinical trial of nearly 150 patients from Europe with a variety of cancer types who had stopped responding to standard treatments. The study was funded by Genmab and Seattle Genetics and was recently published in The Lancet Oncology. Researchers saw responses in 7% with endometrial cancer, 14% for ovarian cancer, 13% with esophageal, 13% with non-small cell lung, 27% of patients with bladder cancer and 26.5% of those with cervical cancer. Responses lasted an average of 5.7 months and up to 9.5 months in some patients. TV is made up of a toxic drug attached to the tail end of an antibody that is designed to target a receptor called “tissue factor” which is present at high levels on the surface of many cancer cells. Upon binding to the tissue factor, the drug is drawn inside the cancer cells.
Johann de Bono, Regius Professor of Cancer Research at The Institute of Cancer Research, London said, “What is so exciting about this treatment is that its mechanism of action is completely novel – it acts like a Trojan horse to sneak into cancer cells and kill them from the inside. Our early study shows that it has the potential to treat a large number of different types of cancer and particularly some of those with very poor survival rates”. He also added “TV has manageable side effects and we saw some good responses in the patients in our trial, all of whom had late-stage cancer that had been heavily pre-treated with other drugs and who had run out of other options. We have already begun additional trials of this new drug in different tumor types and as a second-line treatment for cervical cancer, where response rates were particularly high. We are also developing a test to pick out the patients most likely to respond”.
– Arpitha Shetty
Healthcare – Research Analyst