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 a growth factor inhibitor called BIBF 1120 for advanced ovarian cancer
This trial was done to see if BIBF 1120 might be useful for treating ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer and primary peritoneal cancer that has spread. This trial was supported by Cancer Research UK.
More about this trial
Advanced ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer and primary peritoneal cancer are often treated with surgery and chemotherapy. But there is a risk that the cancer can come back (relapse) or continue to grow despite treatment.
All cells have receptors on the cell surface. But certain types of cells, including cancer cells, have receptors that encourage blood vessel growth. When proteins in your body trigger these receptors, cancer cells make their own blood vessels so that they can keep growing. This process is called angiogenesis. A cancer cannot continue to grow without a good blood supply. So blocking angiogenesis may help to slow or stop cancer growth.
BIBF 1120 is a type of biological therapy. It is designed to block blood vessel growth by targeting several types of growth factor receptors on the surface of cancer cells. The growth factor receptors are called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), platelet derived endothelial growth factor (PDGF) and fibroblast growth factor (FGF).
In this trial, some patients had BIBF 1120 tablets and some had dummy tablets (placebo tablets).
The aim of this trial was to find out if BIBF 1120 could help stop ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer and primary peritoneal cancer growing.
Summary of results
The research team found that BIBF 1120 could help stop some ovarian cancers growing.
The trial recruited 83 women. They all had cancer that had spread or continued to grow despite previous treatments.
- 43 women took BIBF 1120 tablets twice a day
- 40 women took dummy (placebo) tablets twice a day
The research team found that, 9 months after starting treatment, the cancer stopped growing in about 3 times as many women taking BIBF 1120 (16%), compared to those taking the placebo (5%).
The women taking BIBF 1120 did have more side effects than those who had the placebo, but most were not very severe. The most common side effects were
- Pain in the abdomen
- A build up of fluid in the abdomen (ascites)
- Raised liver test results
The trial team concluded that BIBF 1120 could be a useful treatment to delay further growth of ovarian cancer. But they point out that it’s difficult to draw any firm conclusions from this small trial. A bigger phase 3 trial is being done to help confirm how well it works.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
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 Jonathan Ledermann
Cancer Research UK
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
University College London (UCL)
This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUKE/05/020.