Thousands of women suffering from ovarian cancer could benefit from a drug combination which shrinks tumours in half of patients at an advanced stage.
VS-6766 and defactinib block signals cancer cells need to grow, and offer a new treatment for a type of ovarian cancer which rarely responds to chemotherapy or hormone therapy, The Guardian has reported.
Researchers said they are “delighted” with the results and are hopeful they will mean a “significant advance” in the treatment of low-grade serous ovarian cancer, which tends to develop at a younger age.
In trial results involving 24 patients, almost half saw their tumours shrink significantly after the treatment – and 64 per cent of patients with KRAS-driven mutation tumours had the same result.
Blood test for cancers
In June, it emerged that a simple blood test capable of detecting over 50 types of cancer before any symptoms was being rolled out by NHS England.
The test is said to identify cancers which are difficult to diagnose early, such as oesophageal, ovarian, pancreatic, head and neck and blood cancers.
The test is being piloted by NHS for those over the age of 50, who are at higher risk of cancer.
And scientists say the test has a very low false positive rate.
US Dr Eric Klein, chairman of the Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute in Cleveland and first author on the paper, said: “Finding cancer early, when treatment is more likely to be successful, is one of the most significant opportunities we have to reduce the burden of cancer.
The test, developed by US-based company Grail, was twice as effective (at 65.6 per cent) finding solid tumours such as oesophageal, liver and pancreatic than it was finding those that have screening options, such as breast, bowel, cervical and prostate cancers.
Lymphoma and myeloma were detected at a rate of 55.1 per cent, and the tissue in which the cancer was located in the body was found in 88.7 per cent of the cases.
Dr Klein said: “We believe that cancers that shed more cfDNA into the bloodstream are detected more easily.
“These cancers are also more likely to be lethal, and prior research shows that this multi-cancer early detection test more strongly detects these cancer types.
“Cancers such as prostate shed less DNA than other tumours, which is why existing screening tests are still important for these cancers.”
The results of the NHS Grail pilot, which is due to start this autumn and will include 140,000 participants, are expected by 2023.
Professor Peter Johnson, national NHS clinical director for cancer, said: “This latest study provides further evidence that blood tests like this could help the NHS meet its ambitious target of finding three-quarters of cancers at an early stage, when they have the highest chance of cure.”