Scientists at the British Cancer Research Institute have developed a revolutionary drug that has just undergone clinical trials and is recognized as effective in combating six types of tumors.
Innovative therapy works on the principle of a "Trojan horse": the developers "hid" the drug, disguising the toxic molecules with a harmless antibody. Thus, it directly enters the tumor and destroys it from the inside.
Tests were conducted on patients with the most common and aggressive forms of cancer already at a late stage – after they were not helped by other types of treatment.
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The drug showed the best results in the fight against cervical and bladder cancers: significant improvements were noted in a quarter of patients who were previously considered incurable. The tumor was either reduced in size, or completely ceased to grow – for a period of from six to nine and a half months.
In addition, therapy has proven effective in treating cancer of the lung, esophagus, uterus, and ovaries, according to British doctors, but it did not help with prostate cancer.
The drug, which the developers themselves call TV (short for the full name tisotumab vedotin), is injected intravenously and is a hybrid of chemistry and immunotherapy.
The toxic substance is attached to the end of the antibody, which attaches to the CD142 protein – it is especially abundant on the surface of cancer cells. As a result, the molecule is sucked into the tumor, where the toxin is released and destroys the cell from the inside.
The therapy has side effects, but they are well tolerated: the most common of them are nausea, increased fatigue and nosebleeds.
Almost 150 cancer patients from Belgium, Great Britain, Denmark, USA and Sweden took part in the first stage of clinical trials.
However, the results of therapy turned out to be so promising that even before the publication of the article, the scientists began the second stage, now with the participation of several hundred incurable patients.
According to the head of the research, Professor of the Institute for Cancer Research Joan de Bono, the medicine can be effective in combating cancer of the intestine, pancreas, larynx or brain.
"The principal innovation is the very principle of the therapy," he explains. "The medicine penetrates the cancer cells, like the Trojan horse, and kills them from the inside."
When asked when such therapy would be available to ordinary patients, rather than in clinical studies, Professor de Bono answered: "In five years, maybe less."