Cancer Research UK reports that there are over 7,300 cases of ovarian cancer in the UK every year. Around 11 women die from the deadly disease every day, making it the 6th most common cause of cancer death in the country. As of now, there are three main ways in which women with ovarian cancer can get treated. 64% of patients get the cancerous tumours removed through surgery, 54% go through chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells, and 2% get radiotherapy.
Now researchers have uncovered a fourth ‘highly effective’ treatment that could shrink tumours in the ovary. The trial, conducted by the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in collaboration with Royal Marsden NHS foundation test, examined the combination of drugs VS-6776 and defactinib on 24 patients between the age of 31 and 75.
Their findings revealed that 46% of the patients experienced a significant reduction in the size of their tumours after taking the treatment. Moreover, the cocktail drug successfully shrunk tumours in 64% of patients that had KRAS-driven mutations in their tumours.
As explained by the ICF, ‘KRAS is one of the most commonly mutated genes in cancer’ which is found in a fourth of all tumours.
They believe ‘tumour profiling’ could help doctors recognise which patients will benefit the most out of this new treatment. Professor Kristian Helin, chief executive of the ICR, said:
This study has turned a deep understanding of how cancer fuels its growth and develops resistance into a highly targeted treatment for patients who currently have few treatment options.
Scientists have been working to develop treatments that can effectively target KRAS-driven cancers for decades.
It's fantastic that early trials indicate this treatment is highly effective for this patient group, and that a phase two trial has already begun.
The study also showed that the treatment was successful in shrinking tumours in patients who had previously received an MEK inhibitor—a less effective tumour-shrinking drug that tumours eventually develop resistance to.
All the results were presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology congress.