Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Drug combination extends survival in advanced colorectal cancer

CANCER DIGEST – May 13, 2015 – A drug developed 50 years ago and abandoned because it was considered to be too toxic, extended survival for colorectal cancer patients whose standard treatments were no longer working. 

Scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston led the clinical trial involving 800 patients worldwide. Results showed the drug in combination with another agent lengthened the lives of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer by an average of almost two months. All participants had metastatic colorectal cancer that was progressing despite previous treatment.

In a paper published online today by the New England Journal of Medicine, investigators at Dana-Farber and research centers around the world found that the drug combination of trifluridine and tipiracil hydrochloride – given as a single pill called TAS-102 – extended patients' overall survival to an average of 7.1 months, compared to 5.3 months for patients given a placebo along with standard treatment. The median time before the disease worsened was 5.7 months for the TAS-102 group and 4.0 months for the placebo group. There were few side effects according to the researchers.

Trifluridine had been tried as an anti-cancer therapy 50 years ago by but was found to be too toxic. Researchers in Japan, however found that used in combination with tipiracil hydrochloride, an agent that blocks the metabolism of trifluridine, substantially reducing the toxic side effects. The study was funded by Taiho Oncology-Taiho Pharmaceutical.

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