THE SUN – Patients with advanced cancer saw tumours vanish during trials of an “exciting” new drug.
The cancer stopped growing in over half of those given the experimental treatment.
Some even had their tumour shrink or disappear completely, the Institute of Cancer Research in London found.
The study was designed to test the safety of berzosertib when taken for cancers including breast and bowel.
It is unusual to see a clinical response to drugs at this stage.
Nineteen volunteers with very advanced disease were given the pill alone and 21 with platinum chemotherapy.
Doctors measured a response in 38 patients and found tumours stopped growing in 20 — 53 per cent.
Among those who also had chemo, 71 per cent stabilised.
‘ENCOURAGING TO SEE’
A man with advanced bowel cancer saw his tumours disappear and remained cancer free for more than two years. A woman with advanced ovarian cancer, whose disease had come back on a different drug, saw her tumours shrink.
Cancerous cells can be killed by damaging their DNA or hampering their ability to repair errors in the genetic code.
Berzosertib belongs to a new class of precision drugs that block a DNA repair protein called ATR. It is the first of this class to be tested.
Researcher Prof Johann de Bono said, “It’s encouraging to see some clinical responses at this early stage.
“Now, we and others are planning further clinical trials of berzosertib and other drugs blocking the ATR protein.
“This new class of ATR inhibiting drugs could boost the effect of treatments like chemotherapy that target cancer DNA, expand our range of treatment options and overcome resistance to other treatments.”
Colleague Professor Paul Workman said, “It’s exciting that the first clinical trial of a drug targetting a key player in the DNA repair process had such promising results.”