According to preliminary results from a recent phase II clinical trial, the addition of the vascular disrupting agent AS1404 to standard chemotherapy reduces the risk of cancer progression in patients with lung cancer more effectively than chemotherapy alone.

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the world. Within the US, lung cancer claims more lives each year than breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for approximately 75%-80% of all lung cancers. NSCLC refers to the type of cell within the lung where the cancer originates.

Locally advanced or metastatic lung cancer is cancer that has spread from the lung to different sites in the body. Standard treatment for locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC typically includes chemotherapy. However, due to the poor outcomes following standard therapeutic approaches, researchers are focusing on novel treatments to improve survival duration for this disease.

AS1404 is an agent that is still in clinical trials. It is referred to as a vascular disrupting agent. It fights cancer by attacking blood vessels that transport nutrients to cancer cells.

Researchers recently conducted a clinical trial to directly compare AS1404 plus chemotherapy to chemotherapy alone in the treatment of locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC. This trial included 71 patients; results from 47 patients are available at present. Patients were treated with either AS1404 plus the chemotherapy agents paclitaxel (Taxol®) and carboplatin (Paraplatin®) or the same chemotherapy regimen without AS1404.

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Overall, patients treated with AS1404 had improved outcomes compared to those treated with chemotherapy alone:

  • A partial disappearance of cancer occurred in 43.5% of patients treated with AS1404, compared with 33.3% treated with chemotherapy only.
  • Disease was stabilized in nearly 48% of patients treated with AS1404, compared with only 33.3% treated with chemotherapy alone.
  • Progressive disease occurred in only 8.7% of patients treated with AS1404, compared with 33.3% treated with chemotherapy alone.
  • Side effects were similar between the two groups of patients.

The researchers concluded that, although preliminary, these results indicate an improvement in anticancer activity with the addition of AS1404 to chemotherapy compared to chemotherapy alone in patients with locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC. Longer follow-up is needed to determine if these results will lead to improved survival for these patients. Patients diagnosed with NSCLC may wish to speak with their physician regarding individual risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial further evaluating AS1404 or other novel therapeutic approaches. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov) and www.cancerconsultants.com.

Reference: Antisoma. Antisoma announces promising preliminary phase II data for AS1404 in lung cancer. Available at: http://www.antisoma.co.uk/admin/data/datFiles/17_oct_2005.asp. Accessed October 2005.

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