Hitting the Mark

Targeted Agent Shows Promise in Biliary Cancer

Tanios Bekaii SaabThe experimental agent selumetinib showed promising results in people with advanced biliary cancer in a multi-institutional study led by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).

Findings from this 28-patient phase II study indicate that selumetinib, also known as AZD6244 (ARRY-142886), inhibits the MEK protein, which cancer cells need to proliferate and survive.

The tumor shrank to an undetectable level in one patient, and two patients showed partial tumor shrinkage. In 17 patients, the tumor stopped growing for up to 16 weeks in most cases. On average, patients experienced no cancer progression for a promising 3.7 months, even though nearly 40 percent had prior therapy (such tumors tend to resist further treatment).

“Biliary cancer has no good standard of care,” says principal investigator Tanios Bekaii-Saab, MD, medical director of gastrointestinal oncology at the OSUCCC – James. He notes that most patients present at later stages of the disease, which has a universally poor outcome. “Our study provides a strong rationale for developing this agent further in larger trials, which we hope will enable us to establish a new standard of care.”

Bekaii-Saab says patients who lacked a target protein called pERK did not seem to respond to the drug. “This suggests that we may be able to identify which patients are most likely to benefit from this agent,” he adds.

Published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

To refer a patient, please call The James Line New Patient Referral Center toll free: 1-800-293-5066.

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