Studies reveal potential new targeted therapies for common, hard-to-treat cancers

June 2, 2014, American Society of Clinical Oncology

Positive results from four clinical trials of investigational targeted drugs for advanced ovarian, lung, and thyroid cancers, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia were highlighted today at the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Findings from the mid- and late-stage trials suggest new ways to slow disease progression and improve survival for patients who experience relapses or resistance to available treatments.

"Cancer relapses and treatment resistance have always been among the most daunting challenges in cancer care," said press briefing moderator Gregory Masters, MD, FACP, ASCO Expert and a medical oncologist at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center in Newark, Delaware. "The good news is that genomic medicine is helping to overcome these challenges by revealing new ways to target a cancer cell's inner workings. The research highlighted today could lead to new treatment options for who, until now, have had none, or for whom the side effects of current drugs outweigh their limited benefits, as we often see with our older patients with leukemia."

Key studies include:

Second-line treatment with ramucirumab plus standard docetaxel extends survival for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer: This phase III clinical trial marks the first time in a decade that a survival benefit has been achieved in second-line therapy for patients with advanced non-small cell – findings that could impact the care of 60,000 patients each year in the United States.

Ibrutinib is highly active, significantly delaying and extending survival for patients with resistant or relapsed : Early results from the RESONATE study reveal the first oral agent to improve survival for resistant or relapsed CLL. Treatment was well tolerated, affirming ibrutinib as an important new option for this common adult leukemia, especially for elderly patients who are often unable to tolerate traditional chemotherapy.

New targeted drug, lenvatinib, yields high response rates, delays progression in patients with radioiodine-resistant, advanced differentiated : Nearly two-thirds of patients responded to lenvatinib treatment, which also delayed disease progression by 14.7 months over placebo.

A new targeted drug combination, cediranib plus olaparib, significantly increases progression-free survival in women with recurrent : A combination of the PARP inhibitor olaparib and the anti-angiogenic drug cediranib delays recurrent ovarian cancer progression by more than eight months compared with olaparib alone. This marks the first time these two types of targeted drugs have ever been combined, and could fill an important gap in treatment of ovarian cancer.

Explore further: Targeted therapies offer hope against aggressive cancer

More information: www.asco.org/AMMRC

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