Testing for a new drug that targets ovarian cancer is underway in Britain, and has so far shown promising results among women in the advanced stages of the disease.
A small group of women have trialled the drug so far, which was initially tested to see if it was safe for humans to take, the BBC reports.
Researchers from the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in London found the treatment had an instant clinical effect and say it shrank tumours of around half of those who took part.
Testing for the drug – known in the study as ONX-0801 – was limited to 15 women, and although the results did show a positive response in some, researchers say the drug may not be safe to take for more than a few months.
The seven women who responded well to treatment were found to all carry a particular molecule the drug was specifically designed to target.
ONX-0801 is part of a new breed of cancer-treating drugs which have the ability to target cancer cells and disrupt their chemistry, while leaving other healthy tissue intact.
And because drugs like these work in a targeted way, they can significantly reduce the debilitated effects of traditional chemotherapy.
Study leader Dr Uda Banerji says: “The results we have seen in this trial are very promising. It is rare to see such clear evidence of reproducible responses in these early stages of drug development.
"The beauty of this particular drug is that it is targeted to the cancer cell. This means there are fewer side-effects, making it a kinder treatment for ovarian cancer patients.”
The researchers hope to carry out larger clinical trials as soon as possible, and also say they’ve developed a test to identify women most likely to benefit from the drug.
Ovarian cancer: what you need to know:
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