A novel agent called OSI-774 has shown promise in the treatment of patients with advanced ovarian cancer that has stopped responding to standard therapies, according to results recently reported at the 37th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Ovarian cancer is a common malignancy occurring in the United States, with about 25,000 new cases diagnosed each year. It is the major cause of death from gynecologic malignancy in Europe and the United States. Ovarian cancer tends to have an insidious onset, causing the majority of women to be diagnosed at a late stage. The ovary makes female hormones and stores all of the eggs that are released once a month during ovulation. There are two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus. Treatment options depend on the stage, or extent of disease, but may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and/or biologic therapy (treatment utilizing the body’s immune system to fight cancer). Patients that fail standard therapy are currently left with few treatment options.
Epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR) are small proteins that are found on the surface of all cells. EGFR binds exclusively to small proteins circulating in the blood called growth factors. The binding action between EGFR and growth factors stimulates biological processes within the cell to promote growth of a cell in a strictly controlled manner. However, in many cancer cells, EGFR is either abundantly overexpressed or the EGFR biological processes that normally stimulate cell growth are constantly active, leading to the uncontrolled and excessive growth of the cancer cell.
OSI-774 is a novel therapeutic agent aimed at blocking the EGFR pathway. OSI-774 halts excessive cellular growth by inhibiting the EGFR process within a cell. Clinical trials are currently underway evaluating OSI-774 in a variety of cancers. Recently, a multi-institutional clinical trial was conducted evaluating OSI-774 in 30 patients with advanced ovarian cancer who had stopped responding to standard therapies. All patients in this study overexpressed EGFR. Eight weeks following treatment with OSI-774, 15 patients achieved a stabilization of their cancer and 3 patients achieved a 50% or greater reduction in their cancer.
These results indicate that OSI-774 has anti-cancer activity when used as a single agent in some patients with advanced ovarian cancer. Perhaps the greatest benefit of treatment with OSI-774 will be derived from its utilization in combination with other therapies. Patients with advanced ovarian cancer may wish to speak with their physician about the risks and benefits of participation in a clinical trial further evaluating OSI-774 or other promising therapeutic approaches. eCancerTrials.com also provides personalized clinical trial searches on behalf of patients. (Proceedings from the 37th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Abstract 831, San Francisco, CA, May, 2001)