The combination of the monoclonal antibody panitumumab and the FOLFIRI chemotherapy regimen may be effective when used for initial treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer, according to study results presented at the 23rd annual Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. Metastatic colorectal cancer refers to cancer that has spread from the colon or rectum (parts of the large intestine) to distant sites in the body. Since cure rates for this stage of disease remain low, treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer is aimed at increasing survival time and/or improving quality of life.
Treatment for advanced colorectal cancer often involves a combination of chemotherapy agents. One commonly used combination is referred to as FOLFIRI. It is the combination of 5-fluorourcil, Camptosar® (irinotecan), and leucovorin.
Panitumumab is a monoclonal antibody, which is a protein produced in a laboratory and designed to locate certain components of cells. Panitumumab is targeted against the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) pathway-a complex biological pathway that is involved in cellular replication. Often, cancerous cells have a mutation within the EGFR pathway; this results in uncontrolled replication and spread of cancer cells. Therefore, much research in the treatment of cancer is currently aimed at the EGFR pathway.
In order to evaluate the combination of FOLFIRI and panitumumab for initial treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer, researchers at Northwestern University conducted a phase II clinical trial among 24 patients. Patients were followed for a median of 10.7 months after treatment in order to assess response to treatment.
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- 33% of patients experienced a reduction in detectable cancer.
- 46% of patients achieved stable disease.
- 13% of patients had cancer that progressed during treatment.
- All patients experienced toxic effects of treatment that involved the skin, hair, nails, or eyes. However, there were few serious toxic effects.
The researchers concluded that the combination of panitumumab and FOLFIRI may have a role in the initial treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer. They recommend additional studies to directly compare chemotherapy with or without panitumumab, to evaluate other chemotherapy regimens in combination with panitumumab, and to assess different doses of panitumumab.
Reference: Benson A, et al. Panitumumab, A Fully-Human IgG2 Antibody Treatment for Colorectal Cancer. Proceedings from the 23rd annual Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium. 2005. New York. Abstract #4.
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