The drug, SU011248, which is given in capsule form, is a signal transduction inhibitor designed to act against several abnormally behaving enzymes along the cellular signalling pathway.
Results of the first Phase I study were presented today (Wednesday 20 November) at the EORTC-NCI-AACR Symposium on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics, in Frankfurt.
Patients in the study had a range of advanced cancers, which had failed to respond to all other therapies: in many cases at least three different types of treatment had been tried.
Lead researcher Dr Eric Raymond told a news briefing: "Any activity in this situation is very promising since everything else has failed. But, we did not expect to see such a high number of responses in a range of cancers."
He said that the Phase I study would continue for the next six months or so. Phase II and III studies would start immediately afterwards and would include a formal analysis of the response rate - an analysis that was inappropriate for the Phase I study, which began with very low doses of the drug.
The drug is a newcomer in the field of anti-angiogenics drugs designed to damage tumours by attacking the network of blood vessels that 'feed' them. Although it has been a major research field over the last decade or more, angiogenesis has not so far lived up clinically to its early research promise. But, the response in this study provides evidence that anti-angiogenics may yet have a future.
Dr Raymond said: "Initially we thought that the drug would be an angiostatic agent that stabilises tumours, rather than an angiotoxic agent that actively shrinks tu
Contact: Margaret Willson
European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer