The fight against cancer continues worldwide and we have selected a number of good news stories from around the world regarding the research into cures for cancer.
Our first news story comes from Australia and is about a new cancer treatment has helped nearly 80% of those in a trial of patients with leukaemia.
Lives are being saved in Melbourne in a world-first trial of a potentially revolutionary cancer drug that comes in the form of a single tablet.
Some patients with an advanced form of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), the most common type of leukaemia affecting about 1000 Australians each year, have been given a new lease on life with the invention of the new anti-cancer drug, venetoclax.
The drug has been in the works for five years.
Three Victorian centres – The Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute – began phase-one trials of it with severely ill patients in 2011.
There are 116 patients trialling the pill, which they take daily.
Professor Andrew Roberts, a haematologist at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, says 79 per cent of participants had promising responses to the drug.
One of those is Rod Jacobs, 63, who credits it with saving his life.
He was diagnosed with CLL in 2009 and given chemotherapy, but the cancer returned in 2012.
Mr Jacobs was accepted into the trial in 2013 and today not even the most sensitive medical test can detect cancer his blood.
“The results were fantastic – my quality of life has improved immensely,” Mr Jacobs told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday.
“I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for this drug.”
Professor Roberts says 20 per cent of the trial participants achieved complete remission.
“This is a very exciting result for a group of people who often had no other treatment options available,” he told reporters.
Professor John Seymour, chair of the haematology service at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, said the new drug not only worked quickly, but had significantly milder side-effects than conventional treatments.
Unlike chemotherapy patients, trial patients felt only mild nausea.
However, as these results came from the first trial involving humans, it could take years until the drug is available to the public.
From the National Student
University of Southampton researchers have developed a revolutionary new form of treatment, known as Immunotherapy, which uses a person’s internal functions to fight cancer.
The research has been conducted by specialists and has had positive test results on a number of patients being treated at Southampton General Hospital.
Early forecasts suggest that a cancer immunotherapy vaccine could be available within 15 years, developed within a new state-of-the-art facility being built in the grounds of the Tremona Road hospital.
The Southampton Centre for Cancer Immunology, which will cost £25 million to build, will attract the finest cancer research brains under one roof and transform the lives of tens of thousands of patients who will benefit from their discoveries. It will create 60 new jobs and put Southampton firmly on the world treatment stage.
Tim Elliott, professor of experimental oncology at the University of Southampton, will be the director of the new centre.
“This is the first time researchers have felt comfortable talking about a cure. The excitement comes from the fact that there are now trials of Immunotherapy” explained Elliot.
Part of the reason that cancer is so dangerous is often the lack of effective treatment. However, Southampton scientists have made what could be a potentially game-changing breakthrough in their attempts to find a cure.
After years of minimal progression in the field, Immunotherapy, which supercharges the immune system to recognise and destroy cancerous cells, could provide the answer. Additionally, the treatment may actually provide patients with long-lasting protection against future growth.
“I think we will see vaccines used in Immunotherapy in patients with all types of cancer within 15 years” said Elliot.
Researchers find genetic “signature” common to five types of cancer, hope it is a step to an early test for cancer. https://t.co/e9Lm3KAxuG
— Arizona Oncology (@ArizonaOncology) February 10, 2016
The clinical trial commenced in February 2012 at 28 U.S. investigational clinical trial sites and enrolled 147 patients with low grade localized (T1c) prostate cancer. The study lasted 40 months overall from the first patient randomized to the last patient 18 month endpoints.
Results from the completed 18 month outcome study after a single injection of fexapotide included the following:
- Absence of tumors (Primary Endpoint) controlled for size in baseline area: fexapotide 15 mg superior to control (p=.035); crossover fexapotide 15 mg superior to control (p=.002); crossover fexapotide overall superior to control (p=.014).
- 75.5% reduction in biopsy proven prostate cancer Gleason upgrades (pathological progression) after 18 months in fexapotide 15 mg treated patients compared to control (p=.0055). 71.7% reduction in prostate cancer Gleason upgrades in fexapotide treated patients overall (p=.0045 vs controls).
- 84.8% reduction after 18 months in surgery or radiotherapy instituted for prostate cancer Gleason upgrade (biopsy worsening) in fexapotide treated patients overall compared to control group (p=.014).
- 54.8% reduction after 18 months in surgery or radiotherapy instituted for all causes with or without prostate cancer Gleason upgrade in fexapotide 15 mg treated patients compared to control (p=.026).
- Significant improvement for fexapotide patients compared to controls in 4 out of 4 Secondary Endpoints. Tumor volume reduction in the treated area, combined dosages (p=.04); tumor volume change in prostate overall, fexapotide patients overall (p=.014); median tumor grade outcome in the treated area, all dosages (fexapotide median benign, vs control median Gleason 3+3), and superior median tumor grade in prostate overall, fexapotide 15 mg vs controls.
- Consistent safety results with no significant drug-related adverse events and no significant related sexual adverse events.
- Overall superior results for the fexapotide 15 mg dose compared to the 2.5 mg dose (dose-response).
- Other statistically significant improvement outcomes in fexapotide patients compared to controls, to be presented comprehensively at medical meetings.
“These results demonstrate that a single targeted office injection of fexapotide has led to statistically significant improvement in outcomes with much less surgery or radiotherapy required after 18 months. This means a reduction in patient discomfort, and a reduction in permanent side effects and life changes when the more invasive treatments are required,” said Paul Averback, CEO of Nymox.