SAN ANTONIO (April 9, 2010) – A virus that destroys cancer cells but leaves normal cells unharmed may offer hope to those affected by one of the most deadly forms of lung cancer, according to investigators from the Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
The CTRC has started patient enrollment in a clinical research study using the viral treatment REOLYSIN®, in combination with two conventional chemotherapy drugs, to treat patients with squamous non-small cell lung cancer. For most patients, current treatments do not cure the disease.
“The study offers new hope for this group of patients with lung cancer,” said Alain C. Mita, M.D., a medical oncologist and assistant professor of medicine at the CTRC.
REOLYSIN is an experimental treatment derived from a common virus called the reovirus. It directly kills many types of cancer cells and works synergistically with many approved chemotherapies and radiation.
When the reovirus enters a cancer cell, it produces thousands of copies of itself, causing the cell to burst. But the reovirus can replicate only in cancer cells with mutations along a signaling pathway in the cell called the Ras pathway, while leaving normal cells unharmed. Approximately two-thirds of all human cancers express this particular mutation and are therefore a potential target for REOLYSIN treatment.
As many as 55 patients are expected to be treated in the trial (REO 021). They will receive REOLYSIN intravenously with paclitaxel and carboplatin every three weeks. Patients who would like information about eligibility requirements can call the patient referral line at (210) 450-5798.
The primary objective of the Phase 2 trial is to assess the regimen’s antitumor effect in the study population. This trial is part of a broad collaboration with Oncolytics Biotech Inc. that will involve up to five Phase 2 studies exploring the use of REOLYSIN in combination with chemotherapy for various cancer indications. Three other trials are currently open:
• Advanced pancreatic cancer — Phase 2 clinical research study using intravenous administration of REOLYSIN in combination with gemcitabine (Gemzar®). Principal Investigator: Monica Mita, M.D., assistant professor of medicine and clinical research director of the CTRC’s Institute for Drug Development
• Metastatic melanoma — Phase 2 clinical research study using intravenous administration of REOLYSIN in combination with paclitaxel and carboplatin. Principal Investigator: Devalingam Mahalingam, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine
• Head and neck cancer — Phase 2 clinical research study using intravenous administration of REOLYSIN in combination with paclitaxel and carboplatin. Principal Investigator: Anand Karnad, M.D., professor of medicine
Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer deaths among both men and women. There were an estimated 159,000 deaths from lung cancer in 2009, accounting for around 28 percent of all cancer deaths. The American Cancer Society estimates that of all lung cancer cases, about 25 percent to 30 percent are squamous cell carcinomas. For more information about non-small cell lung cancer, visit: www.cancer.org.
The Cancer Therapy & Research Center at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is one of the nation’s leading academic research and treatment centers, serving more than 4.4 million people in the high-growth corridor of Central and South Texas including Austin, San Antonio, Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley. CTRC is one of the elite cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center, and is one of the only three in Texas. A world leader in developing new drugs to treat cancer, the CTRC Institute for Drug Development is internationally recognized for conducting one of the largest oncology Phase I clinical drug programs in the world, and participates in the clinical and/or preclinical development of many of the cancer drugs approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. For more information, visit www.ctrc.net