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New kind of trial offers hope of cancer cure

Apr 17 2014, 13:54 IST
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The U.S. group Friends of Cancer Research said in November it was backing a similar multi-drug, multi-arm clinical trial to evaluate five experimental lung cancer drugs. (Reuters) The U.S. group Friends of Cancer Research said in November it was backing a similar multi-drug, multi-arm clinical trial to evaluate five experimental lung cancer drugs. (Reuters)
SummaryScientists and drugmakers are pioneering a new kind of clinical trial that changes the way cancer drugs are studied, potentially cutting both the time and cost of bringing them to market.

markets from which to recoup investment.

"It's premature to talk about pricing but it will make drug development more cost-effective," said Menelas Pangalos, AstraZeneca's head of innovative medicines.

Mace Rothenberg, senior vice president at Pfizer Oncology, said: "It should be a more efficient process but it is for a more niche, focused group of patients."

The new trial in non-small cell lung cancer will use up to 12 experimental drugs from AstraZeneca, including two compounds designed to boost the immune system that will be given to patients who do not show one of 21 sets of gene faults.

Pfizer, meanwhile, is supplying Xalkori, which is approved for certain rare lung cancers and may also work in some even more unusual types, as well as the experimental drug palbociclib, which has shown promise in breast cancer.

Around 15 to 20 patients will be given each drug initially and promising medicines could be fast-tracked into larger-scale testing. Those that show no benefit will quickly be dropped.

Kumar said new medicines could be added to the existing trial as science advances, and he hopes other drug companies will join the programme in due course.

A successful programme in lung cancer could also lead to the concept being rolled out into testing drugs for other tumour types, he said.

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