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According to an article recently published in Clinical Cancer Research, intraperitoneal infusion (administration of medication directly into the abdomen) with the investigative agent Removab® (catumaxomab) helps reduce malignant ascites due to ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer is the most deadly of gynecologic cancers, with the vast majority of cases diagnosed once the cancer has spread from the ovary to other sites in the body. Malignant ascites refers to a condition in which excessive fluid accumulates in the abdomen. The fluid typically contains cancerous cells. Malignant ascites can be caused from advanced cancer growing in the abdomen and preventing the normal draining of fluid. The condition is associated with a significantly decreased quality of life, ultimately compromising the ability to move, eat, and/or breathe normally.

Patients may be treated with standard therapies, such as chemotherapy, to shrink the sites of cancer throughout the body and potentially help relieve malignant ascites. However, some patients have cancer that has stopped responding to standard therapies (refractory disease). These patients often undergo paracentesis, a procedure in which a needle or tube is used to drain the fluid from the abdomen. Paracentesis is often painful or uncomfortable for the patient, and is typically performed on an ongoing basis to relieve the fluid buildup.

Catumaxomab is a monoclonal antibody that has been developed to target specific components of cells. Catumaxomab links immune cells to the cancer cells, ultimately enabling the immune system to kill the cancer cells.

Researchers from Germany recently conducted a clinical trial to evaluate catumaxomab for the treatment of malignant ascites among women with refractory ovarian cancer. This trial included 23 women who were treated with 4–5 infusions directly into the abdomen of catumaxomab within 9–13 days.

• All women experienced a reduction in ascites.

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• 22 of the 23 patients did not require paracentesis following the last administration of catumaxomab to the 37th day of the trial (end of the study).

• Catumaxomab had acceptable side effects.

The researchers concluded that peritoneal administration of catumaxomab is an effective and well-tolerated agent for the treatment of malignant ascites among patients with refractory ovarian cancer.

Patients with malignant ascites may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of participation in a clinical trial further evaluating catumaxomab or other promsising therapeutic approaches.

Reference: Burges A, Wimberger P, Kumper C, et al. Effective relief of malignant ascites in patients with advanced ovarian cancer by a trifunctional anti-EpCAM x anti-CD3 antibody. Clinical Cancer Research. 2007;13:3899-3905.

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