Cancer in the headlines: cancer drug updates, June 11



Popular cancer drug can cause kidney damage
The drug bevacizumab is an anti-VEGF agent widely used in tumor treatments. Recent data however reveals that the cancer drug causes proteinuria (loss of protein from the kidney) and kidney damage. Patients on bevacizumab have an almost five-fold increased likelihood of having severe proteinuria and an almost eight-fold increased risk for nephritic syndrome. It is recommended that patients should be closely monitored for kidney-related side effects.

Combining Two Competing Cancer Drugs, Study Finds Rare 100% Response Rate
The new trend in pharmacologic cancer treatments are the so-called “boutique” treatments which target a small portion of a patients but so effective is the target that an almost 100% efficacy can be achieved. An example is a drug being developed by Pfizer which targets only 4% of lung cancer cases but with very high response rates. Another trend is to combine two drugs from competing companies to form a highly effect cocktail. An example is the joint venture of Takeda and Celgene.

Cetuximab less effective in simple tumors
The cancer drug cetuximab is approved for the treatment of metastatic colon cancer. However, the drug seems to be less effective in simpler tumors in less advanced stage. This is according to study conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic. The findings are puzzling and warrant further research. According to trial leader Dr. Steven Alberts, oncologist at the Mayo Clinic:

“It is difficult to understand how an agent that helps patients with metastatic cancer is not beneficial to those with less advanced disease. At this point we are focusing our efforts on identifying a biological explanation for these findings.”

Inhaled drug may prevent lung cancer
Iloprost is a drug indicated for pulmonary hypertension, scleroderma, and Raynaud’s phenomenon. It is administered through inhalation. Researchers at the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center tested whether the drug in oral form can prevent smoking-related lung cancer. TH early results look very promising. According to the study authors:

“Oral iloprost showed promise for preventing lung cancer in former, but not current, smokers in a phase II clinical trial.”

Compound enhances cancer-killing properties of agent in trials
An experimental drug called ARC is currently being tested for cancer treatment. Researchers report that adding a second agent called ABT-737 can increase the efficacy of the two drugs. The two drugs seem to work in synergy so that lower concentrations are necessary to achieve optimal efficacy. Lower doses, in turn, result in fewer side effects.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.
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