CHICAGO - In the first scientific study of its kind, shark cartilage extract, AE-941 or Neovastat, has shown no benefit as a therapeutic agent when combined with chemotherapy and radiation for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer, according to researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Charles Lu, M.D., associate professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology, presented the study today (June 2) at the 43rd annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).
The absence of blood vessels in cartilage as well as preclinical studies analyzing cartilage extracts have supported the hypothesis that cartilage contains inhibitors of angiogenesis. Also, shark cartilage has long intrigued the public due to the belief that the incidence of cancer in this cartilaginous fish is very rare. Early Phase I and II studies in lung and renal cancers suggested some benefit to patients when AE-941 was given at higher doses, says Lu.
"This is the first large Phase III randomized trial of shark cartilage as a cancer agent. A unique and important aspect about this shark cartilage study was that this product, Neovastat, was never sold over-the-counter, unlike other shark cartilage compounds previously studied. The company, Aeterna Zentaris, developed the compound as a pharmaceutical as opposed to a compound sold for profit that is available over the Internet, for example," says Lu, the study's national principal investigator.
The international Phase III study enrolled 384 newly-diagnosed untreated Stage III non-small cell lung cancer patients at 53 sites in the United Sates and in Canada from June 2000 to February 2006. M. D. Anderson enrolled 60 patients in the trial.
The study was initiated at the request of, and was supported by, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) who sought proposals from pharmaceutical companies regarding their shark cartila
Contact: Laura Sussman
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center