Selumetinib controlled the disease in 81 percent of patients.
Median progression-free survival was 11 months.
Patients experienced minimal side effects.
CHICAGO — Selumetinib, a small-molecule MEK inhibitor, demonstrated the ability to control low-grade serous ovarian or peritoneal cancer, according to phase II study results presented at the AACR Annual Meeting 2012, held here March 31 - April 4.
The first line of defense against low-grade serous ovarian cancer is surgery, followed by cytotoxic chemotherapy. However, this is a slow-growing cancer and does not respond well to traditional chemotherapies, which target fast-growing cells.
Seeking a more rational treatment approach, Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) researchers led by John Farley, M.D., a professor at Creighton University School of Medicine at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, Neb., used selumetinib to target the MEK-1/2 protein kinase in the MAPK pathway, which is known to mutate in this form of cancer.
GOG researchers assigned 52 women to 100-mg doses of selumetinib orally twice daily in four-week cycles; 33 percent underwent 12 or more cycles. Prior to the study, 58 percent of patients had received three or more rounds of chemotherapy.
Selumetinib controlled the disease in 81 percent of patients. Specifically, eight patients had complete or partial responses to treatment, and 34 had stable disease. The median survival rate without cancer progression was 11 months, and 63 percent of patients had progression-free survival longer than six months. In addition, selumetinib was well tolerated, with three patients experiencing grade 4 adverse events.
“The results were striking,” said Farley. “Many of the patients in the study had received multiple rounds of chemotherapy and were running out of options. By using these tumors’ historical inherent molecular aberrations to select patients for a treatment that in theory could exploit these abnormalities, we took an important step toward individualized cancer therapies.”
In addition to studying the impact of selumetinib on this type of ovarian cancer, investigators were also interested in how patients with RAS/RAF mutations responded to the drug. The team analyzed the tumor DNA from 34 patients, 62 percent of whom had some form of RAS/RAF mutation. Ultimately, they found that RAS/RAF mutations had no impact on patient response.
The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute.
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