A New Drug Combination Shrinks Tumors in Chemotherapy-Resistant Lung and Ovarian Cancer


A recent study with a new drug combination has been conducted involving half of ovarian cancer and a third consisting of lung cancer patients, who had established resistance to chemotherapy. A total of 4,227 women had passed away in the UK in 2016 due to ovarian cancer and 35,260 patients from lung cancer. Professor Paul Workman from ICR says that such drug combinations could help tackle adaption, drug resistance and evolution of cancer.

In the study, a drug called vistusertib has been combined with chemotherapy that has succeeded in stalling the way cancer cells tend to resist treatment and spread and grow. The result in the early stages of study exceeded the expectations so much that now a phase 2 trial of the study is taking place. Dr. Susana Banerjee from The Royal Marsden deems this option as very encouraging as no other alternative is available for women with relapsed ovarian cancer.

In the large trial of the study, 140 women suffering from relapsed ovarian cancer participated and were given paclitaxel (standard chemotherapy) in combination with vistusertib. Researchers from The Royal Marsden, ICR and other 9 such centers have tested the combination on forty patients with squamous non-small lung cancer and 25 women with high-level ovarian cancer. All these patients had standard chemotherapy resistance. Initially, the tolerance of the drug combination was tested and only a few side effects were observed. 52% ovarian cancer patients along with 35% lung cancer patients had 30% of their tumors shrunken. The growth inhibited for 5.8 months on average.

A previous study had found that ovarian cancers resisting chemotherapy possessed a higher level of p-S6K molecule that increased cancer cell growth. In the current study, patients were given paclitaxel (80mg/m2) with vistusertib (50mg) twice a day for three days over 6 weeks. Vistusertib successfully canceled the mentioned function of p-S6K by targeting the protein, mTOR1 and 2, which activates it. Hence cancer cells stopped growing and resisting treatment, surprising researchers with effective results.

This exciting news has given a lot of hope for patients who have grown resistant to standard treatments. Hopefully, this may pave way for more effective treatment for such patients.