Magazine article Drug Topics

New Targets, New Drugs Highlight Oncology Meeting

Magazine article Drug Topics

New Targets, New Drugs Highlight Oncology Meeting

Article excerpt


The spotlight at this year's meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) may have been on ST1571 (Gleevec, Novartis; see page 16), but other hot issues were also discussed.

The San Francisco meeting attracted 25,000 oncologists and other health professionals from around the world. The good news had to do not only with promising results from new kinds of therapeutics, such as monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) that target the epidermal growth factor receptors on tumors and angiogenesis inhibitors, but also better drug combinations.

A phase I clinical trial of EntreMed's angiostatin inhibitor endostatin, reported by Roy Herbst, M.D., et al., at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, concluded that there were no dose-- limiting toxicities with the drug, and there may have been some tumor responses. Future trials, he said, will seek to achieve more sustained plasma levels and to use the agent in combination with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and biological agents.

In his plenary address, ASCO president Lawrence Einhorn, M.D., Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Indiana University, Indianapolis, hailed the new genomic era that provides new targets for the development of hopefully less toxic as well as more effective anti-cancer agents. He called the research being presented at this year's ASCO meeting "elegant and eloquent" and added that "the enthusiasm from molecular-targeted therapy has been justified." What follows are some of the major findings reported at the meeting.

Cancers fact to new MAb. A new chimeric monoclonal antibody, cetuximab (IMC-C225, ImClone Systems), that binds selectively to epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFRs) showed activity in some patients with advanced colorectal cancer who were no longer responding to standard treatment with irinotecan (Camptosar, Pharmacia Corp.) and fluorouracil (5-FU), according to Leonard Saltz, M.D., associate attending phy-sician at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. He said that in 121 patients whose disease was progressing, the irinotecan was continued with the addition of cetuximab, and 27 patients responded with a more than 50% reduction in tumor size. "Now that we have shown that responses can be achieved in these resistant patients, we are excited about the possibility of using it in conjunction with first-- line therapy."

In another study, led by James Abbruzzese, M. …

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