WVU Cancer Center part of national study on new lung cancer drug

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Lung cancer, the deadliest cancer for both men and women, claims more lives than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.  Often the disease does not cause any early symptoms, making diagnosis difficult at a treatable stage.  Consequently, more patients are treated for advanced lung cancer than for early stage disease.

The Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center at West Virginia University is among 12 facilities nationwide offering a Phase II clinical trial to assess a new combination therapy for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in patients who have never received chemotherapy. Phase II clinical trials are designed to evaluate how well a new drug works and also to continue the evaluation of its safety.

Initial treatment for advanced non-small cell lung cancer, the most common type of lung cancer, typically uses a combination of two standard chemotherapy drugs such as carboplatin and paclitaxel and, for those who meet certain criteria, a targeted therapy drug such as bevacizumab (Avastin).

The research study under way at the Cancer Center involves combining those three drugs with fosbretabulin, also called combretastatin A4 phosphate (CA4P), a new kind of targeted drug that is currently in development.  All patients in the study will receive carboplatin, paclitaxel and bevacizumab – and half will receive CA4P as well.

Derived from the bark of the African bush willow tree, CA4P is a synthetic compound being developed by the biopharmaceutical company OXiGENE.  Early studies show that it attacks the blood vessels of solid tumors.

“Combining the two targeted cancer drugs with two chemotherapy drugs is an interesting concept,” said John Rogers, M.D., principal investigator. “Avastin works by blocking new blood vessel formation needed for tumors to grow, while CA4P targets abnormal blood vessels in the center of the tumor to cut off its existing blood supply.”

Dr. Rogers is director of the Sara Crile Allen and James Frederick Allen Comprehensive Lung Cancer Program at WVU. 

“The primary objective of this study is to assess the potential additive or synergistic actions of vascular disrupting agents like CA4P with bevacizumab,” he said.  “It builds on the recent proven benefit of Avastin and explores the potential therapeutic benefit of a two-pronged approach to inhibit tumor blood supply.”

Avastin has been shown to prolong survival of patients with certain kinds of advanced lung cancer when it is added to standard chemotherapy regimens as part of first-line treatment. 

The data from three Phase I clinical trials of combretastatin showed a link between the compound and significant reduction of blood flow to tumors. 

For information on clinical trials at the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center see http://www.hsc.wvu.edu/mbrcc/ctru/.

For information on clinical trial results at OXiGENE see http://www.oxigene.com/vascular/trialresults.asp.


For more information:
Andrea Brunais, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
Ss/ab: 12-15-08

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