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In a Phase II clinical trial, the combination of low-dose interferon alfa and Nexavar® (sorafenib) did not appear to be any more effective than Nexavar alone for the treatment of metastatic renal cell (kidney) cancer. These results were published in Cancer.

The kidneys are each filled with tiny tubules that clean and filter the blood; this process removes waste and makes urine. Renal cell cancer (RCC) is a cancer involving these tubules of the kidney. Metastatic RCC refers to cancer that has spread from the kidney to distant sites in the body.

Nexavar is a targeted therapy that has been approved for use in selected patients with liver cancer or kidney cancer. Nexavar is designed to reduce blood supply to the cancer and to slow cancer growth. Interferon alfa has also been shown to be active against metastatic RCC, and researchers hypothesized that the combination of interferon alfa and Nexavar could be more effective than either drug alone.

To explore the combination of Nexavar and low-dose interferon alfa, researchers conducted a Phase II clinical trial among 80 patients with previously untreated, clear cell, metastatic RCC. Patients were treated with either Nexavar alone or Nexavar plus low-dose interferon alfa.

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Patients were followed for a median of 19.7 months.

  • A complete or partial reduction in detectable cancer was observed in 30% of patients treated with Nexavar alone and 25% of patients treated with Nexavar plus interferon alfa.
  • Median progression-free survival was 7.4 months for Nexavar alone and 7.6 months for Nexavar plus interferon alfa.

The results of this study suggest that the combination of Nexavar and low-dose interferon alfa is no more effective than Nexavar alone for the treatment of metastatic kidney cancer.

Reference: Jonasch E, Corn P, Pagliaro LC et al. Upfront, randomized, phase 2 trial of sorafenib versus sorafenib and low-dose interferon alfa in patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma. Clinical and Biomarker Analysis. Cancer. [early online publication]. October 27, 2009.

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