Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A trial looking at alvespimycin for advanced cancer (PH1/102)
This trial looked at a drug called alvespimycin (17-DMAG) for advanced solid tumours (not a leukaemia or lymphoma). This trial was supported by Cancer Research UK.
Alvespimycin is a type of biological therapy called a heat shock protein inhibitor. Heat shock proteins (HSP) are involved with cell growth. Alvespimycin stops a HSP called HSP90 working properly. Researchers thought that if they could stop HSP90 working, they could help stop cancer growing.
The aims of the trial were to
- Find the best dose of alvespimycin to give
- See what effect it has on proteins in the body
- Find out how well it works as an anti cancer treatment
Summary of results
The research team found the best dose of alvespimycin to give. They also found that it was safe, and that it did affect the level of some proteins in the body.
This early phase trial recruited 25 people with an advanced solid tumour (not a leukaemia or lymphoma). They had already had the standard treatments available for their cancer type.
Everyone taking part had alvespimycin through a drip into a vein once a week. The first few people taking part had the lowest dose of alvespimycin. As they had no serious side effects, the next few people had a higher dose. And so on, until the research team found the best dose to give. This is called a dose escalation trial.
There were 6 dose levels in this trial. Some people who had the highest dose level had serious side effects, so the research team concluded that the 5th dose level they tested was the best one to use.
The side effects included
- Dry eyes
- Blurred vision
- Inflammation of the eye (conjunctivitis)
- Damage to the surface of the eye (corneal abrasion)
- Change in liver function tests
The research team also looked at how well the treatment worked. They were able to assess this in 20 of the people who took part. They found that
- 1 person’s cancer went away
- 1 person’s cancer got smaller
- 9 people’s cancer stayed the same (in 3 of these people it stayed the same for longer than 6 months)
- 9 people’s cancer continued to grow
The trial team concluded that they had found the best dose of alvespimycin to give, and that it was a potential treatment for cancer.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed independently (
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.
Prof I Judson
Cancer Research UK (Centre for Drug Development)
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUKD/06/052.