Monday, 6 August 2007

Two drugs work better than either alone for kidney cancer

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According to reseachers at Duke, a combination of two drugs works better than either drug for patients with renal cell carcinoma, the most common form of kidney cancer. This study was published in the August 1st issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology and was funded by the National Cancer Institute.

The two drugs used in the study together were interferon alpha and sorafenib, which is sold as Nexavar. Interferon alpha is an immunotherapy agent, but kidney tumors only respond to it about 5 to 10 percent of the time. The second drug, sorafenib, is a anti-angiogenic, a class of drugs that work by choking a tumor's blood supply. But sorafenib shrinks tumors in only 5 to 10 percent of kidney cancer patients.

However, when both of these drugs were used in combination, the combination led to significant tumor shrinkage in 33 percent of the 40 patients who participated in the study. Two of the patients had complete responses, meaning their tumors were destroyed. The particpants in the study all had renal cell carcinoma in stage IV disease.

Based on the success of this small study, researchers will soon beging a multisite trial to both confirm these findings and investigate whether patients show additional progress when they take increasing doses of sorafenib alone after the dual therapy.

"This is a deadly cancer that has been hard to treat, and the results of our study suggest that we may be able to further improve the efficacy of exciting new drugs like sorafenib," said Dr. Jared Gollub, lead investigator.

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