Trials of AS1404 for lung cancer show encouraging results

In collaboration with the Press Association

Final data from a phase II trial of a new non-small cell lung cancer drug known as AS1404 have shown a substantial survival benefit, according to Antisoma, the company that has taken the drug through the trials. 

Cancer Research UK's drug development team played an integral role in the early development of the drug. 

During the trial, conducted at hospitals in France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, 34 lung cancer patients who received AS1404 on top of standard chemotherapy had a median survival of 14 months, compared with 8.8 months in 36 patients treated with chemotherapy alone. The difference is one of the largest ever seen in a randomised controlled trial combining a novel agent with first-line chemotherapy for lung cancer. 

Professor Alex Markham, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said he was delighted by the news: "AS1404 was developed by scientists in New Zealand but the pharmaceutical company it was initially licensed to did not have the resource to develop it further. Cancer Research UK used its unique expertise and capacity to take this drug into early stage clinical trials. 

"The charity has since set up an initiative called Clinical Development Partnerships to increase the number of successful new treatments for cancer by taking other undeveloped anti-cancer agents from industry and putting them into clinical trials. 

"Successful drug development is vital to Cancer Research UK's objective of improving the lives of all cancer patients. Since 1982, we have taken over 100 agents into clinical trials. Over the next five years we plan to double our activity and, crucially, speed up the drug development process, getting even more new drugs into clinical trials." 

These results will support plans for a phase III study and both Cancer Research UK and Antisoma are now looking forward to see how the drug performs.