'Impressive' new lung cancer drug revealed

In collaboration with the Press Association

Scientists have identified a new drug which could be used to treat people with small cell lung cancer.

Researchers at Imperial College London and part-funded by Cancer Research UK found the drug, named PD173074, eliminated small cell lung cancer tumours in 50 per cent of cases when tested on mice.

It also prevented the tumours from growing and stopped them from becoming resistant to treatment.

According to Professor Michael Seckl, who led the study, new treatments are needed as a matter of urgency.

"Our new research in mice suggests that it may be possible to develop the drug PD173074 into a new targeted therapy for small cell lung cancer," he commented.

"We hope to take this drug, or a similar drug, into clinical trials next year to see if it is a successful treatment for lung cancer in humans."

Less than five per cent of patients diagnosed with more advanced small cell lung cancer are expected to live more than five years.

Although chemotherapy is often effective at first, many tumours grow back as they become resistant to treatment.

Meanwhile, surgery is not usually an option due to the rate at which the tumours spread.

The study conducted by Professor Seckl and colleagues, which was published online in the journal Cancer Research, focused on a growth hormone called FGF-2, which was already known to promote the spread of small cell cancer tumour cells.

Researchers tested to see whether PD173074, which inhibits the ability of FGF-2 to attach itself to tumour cells, had an impact on the growth of the tumour.

They found the drug eliminated tumours in 50 per cent of the animals and could also enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatment.

When combined with chemotherapy drug cisplatin, PD173074 helped to slow down tumour growth significantly faster than through the use of either cisplatin or PD173074 in isolation.

And the higher the dose of PD173074, the more effective it was found to be.

Dr Joanna Owens, Cancer Research UK's science information manager, said: "It's encouraging to see potential new drugs for lung cancer in the initial stages of development.

"We are pleased to have been involved in this research and Cancer Research UK has pledged in its five-year research strategy to increase research into lung cancer to further improve treatments for this disease.

"The early results from this study are impressive but we'll need to wait for the results of clinical trials before we'll know if the drugs could work for patients."

References

Pardo, O., Latigo, J., Jeffery, R., Nye, E., Poulsom, R., Spencer-Dene, B., Lemoine, N., Stamp, G., Aboagye, E., & Seckl, M. (2009). The Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor Inhibitor PD173074 Blocks Small Cell Lung Cancer Growth In vitro and In vivo Cancer Research, 69 (22), 8645-8651 DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-1576