A trial of AZD8931 and chemotherapy for bowel cancer (PANTHER)

Cancer type:

Bowel (colorectal) cancer
Colon cancer
Rectal cancer
Secondary cancers




Phase 1/2

This trial looked at a drug called AZD8931 and chemotherapy for bowel cancer.

Cancer Research UK supported this trial.

This trial was open for people to join between 2014 and 2017. The team published the results in 2022.

More about this trial

Chemotherapy is a usual treatment for bowel cancer that:

  • isn’t possible to remove with surgery
  • has come back after treatment
  • has spread elsewhere in the body 

One combination of chemotherapy to treat bowel cancer is called FOLFIRI. It includes the following drugs:

  • folinic acid
  • fluorouracil 
  • irinotecan

Doctors wanted to improve treatment for bowel cancer that had come back or spread. They wanted to see if adding AZD8931 to FOLFIRI chemotherapy could help. AZD8931 was a new treatment when this trial was done.  

AZD8931 is a type of targeted cancer drug. It stops signals that cancer cells use to divide and grow.

The main aims of the trial were to:

  • see how safe AZD8931 is
  • find the best dose of AZD8931 to have alongside chemotherapy
  • learn more about the side effects
  • see if AZD8931 and FOLFIRI work better than FOLFIRI on its own

Summary of results

Trial design
This trial was for people whose bowel cancer had spread or come back. 

There were 2 parts to the trial. In part 1 the team looked at the best dose of AZD8931 to have alongside FOLFIRI chemotherapy. When they found this dose then part 2 began. 

FOLFIRI includes the drugs:

  • folinic acid
  • fluorouracil (5FU)
  • irinotecan

In part 2, people were put into a treatment group at random. The aim was for: 

  • half to have AZD8931 and FOLFIRI chemotherapy
  • half to have FOLFIRI chemotherapy on its own

The randomised part of the trial was cut short. This was because AZD8931 would no longer be available after a certain date. So from 2017 on, everyone who joined had AZD8931 and FOLFIRI chemotherapy.

18 people had AZD8931 and FOLFIRI chemotherapy. Of those, 12 had the highest dose of AZD8931. 

The team found the best dose and schedule of AZD8931 to give. 

The research team looked at how well treatment was working 3 months after starting. These results are for the 12 people who had the highest dose of AZD8931. The team found that out of the 12 people the cancer had:

  • got a bit smaller in 3 people 
  • stopped growing in 8 people 
  • continued to grow in 1 person 

The team say these results aren’t as good as having FOLFIRI chemotherapy on its own. But it’s hard to draw any firm conclusions because of the small number of people in the trial. 

Side effects 
Everyone taking part had at least one side effect. Many were mild or didn’t last long. Some had more severe side effects. 

The most common severe side effects of AZD8931 and FOLFIRI chemotherapy included:

  • diarrhoea
  • a drop in the number of white blood cells Open a glossary item
  • high blood pressure
  • liver changes 

The trial team found the highest dose and schedule of AZD8931 to use. They found that adding this to FOLFIRI chemotherapy was safe and the side effects weren’t too bad. But AZD8931 and FOLFIRI didn’t improve treatment for bowel cancer compared with FOLFIRI chemotherapy on its own. 

Even so, all trial results help doctors and researchers understand more about different cancers and the best way to treat them.

More detailed information
There is more information about this research in the reference below. 

Please note, this article is not in plain English. It has been written for health care professionals and researchers.

Journal articles
PANTHER: AZD8931, inhibitor of EGFR, ERBB2 and ERBB3 signalling, combined with FOLFIRI: a Phase I/II study to determine the importance of schedule and activity in colorectal cancer
D Propper and others
British Journal of Cancer, published online November 2022. 

Where this information comes from    
We have based this summary on the information in the article above. This has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. We have not analysed the data ourselves. As far as we are aware, the link we list above is active and the article is free and available to view.

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

Professor Daniel Hochhauser

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
CRUK & UCL Cancer Trials Centre
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre
University College London (UCL)

Other information

This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUKD/12/015.

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


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

Last reviewed:

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