A study to see if bortezomib and an epilepsy drug could be a treatment for melanoma or bowel cancer

Cancer type:

Bowel (colorectal) cancer
Skin cancer




Phase 2

This study was to find out how small doses of bortezomib (Velcade) and the epilepsy drug sodium valproate worked in people with melanoma or bowel cancer.

Bortezomib is a type of biological therapy called a proteasome inhibitor. It causes a build up of unwanted proteins in cells, which makes cancer cells die.

Researchers knew that an epilepsy drug called sodium valproate blocks enzymes Open a glossary item called histone deacetylases. Cancer cells need these enzymes to grow and divide. So blocking them may help to stop cancer growing.

Early research into using drugs such as sodium valproate to treat cancer had shown promising results. Research had also suggested that this type of drug worked well alongside bortezomib.

This study was looking at small doses of sodium valproate with bortezomib to see how this combination of drugs worked in people with bowel cancer or melanoma.

Summary of results

This study was closed early as the researchers weren’t able to recruit enough people. But they were able to show that a substance called HR23B was increased in the cancer after people took sodium valproate.

HR23B is what researchers call a biomarker Open a glossary item. It is something they can measure in the body to help them tell how a treatment is working.

HR23B is a biomarker that shows a response to drugs that block proteins in the cancer called histone deacetylases (they are HDAC inhibitors). Sodium valproate is an HDAC inhibitor. Knowing that this marker increased after people took sodium valproate may be useful for future research.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Prof Mark Middleton

Supported by

Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
Oxford Cancer Research Centre
Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 4453

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Wendy took part in a new trial studying the possible side effect of hearing loss

A picture of Wendy

"I was delighted to take part in a clinical trial as it has the potential to really help others in the future.”

Last reviewed:

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