Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Promising drug for advanced bladder cancer given breakthrough status

Genentech video. Click to view 
CANCER DIGEST – Nov. 26, 2014 – A team of British scientists are reporting made a major breakthrough with a new therapy for advanced bladder cancer - for which there have been no major treatment advances in the past 30 years.

Led by Dr. Tom Powles, consultant medical oncologist, Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London, the researchers published early results of a small phase I study today in the journal Nature.
The clinical trial is testing the safety of a targeted antibody drug (MPDL3280A) which blocks a protein (PD-L1) known to help cancer cells evade immune detection and thrive in the body.

In the trial, 68 patients with advanced bladder cancer (who had failed all other standard treatments such as chemotherapy) received the MPDL3280A drug. In addition, patients were all tested for the protein PD-L1 and around 30 were identified as having PD-L1 positive tumors.

After six weeks of treatment, 43 percent of PD-L1-positive patients (12) found their tumors had shrunk. This rose to 52 percent after 12 weeks of follow up. In two of these patients (7 percent) radiological imaging found no evidence of the cancer at all following the treatment. Among PD-L1 negative patients, 11 percent responded positively to treatment, meaning the treatment reduced tumor.

The results of this trial are so promising, the MPDL3280A antibody drug has been given breakthrough designation status by the FDA. Larger studies further testing this agent are being planned in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

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