The sarcomas research group at the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO) have tested a new therapeutic combination to combat resistant sarcomas on nineteen patients. The clinical trial results, which indicate that the new treatment could stabilize the growth of these tumors have been published in the British Journal of Cancer.
Sarcomas are a rare type of tumor and complex since there are several subtypes. They can affect people from childhood, and are usually diagnosed in advanced and very little localized phases. 50% can be cured with major surgeries and localized treatment, but the other 50% are resistant to conventional therapies and generally metastasize.
The IDIBELL research group in sarcomas, led by Oscar Martinez-Tirado, test new drugs or new combinations of drugs that could be more effective against these tumors, working closely with the coordinator of the Unit of Sarcomas at ICO, Javier García del Muro. This teamwork joins the most basic research to the most clinical and has led to translation of the research from bench to bedside.
Conventional chemotherapy and targeted therapy
Researchers tested different combinations of conventional chemotherapy with new drugs aimed at molecular targets in cell sarcomas and decided to try in mice a combination of conventional chemotherapy used to treat these tumors and rapamycin, a drug that acts specifically in mTOR, an altered protein in various types of cancer.
"With the results in the cell lines we thought it was the best option to test in mice," said Martinez-Tirado "but the truth is that the results in animals were spectacular. In mice that had the tumor and we gave to them this combination, the tumor stopped growing and weeks after stopping treatment it was not recovered, as it does if we treat them with chemotherapy alone or only with rapamycin. "
Javier García del Muro is responsible for this phase I clinical trial. This new combination has been tested on nineteen patients, most of sarcoma, but patients with other tumor types for which there is no treatment were also included. "Although Phase I trials are used to determine the recommended dose and discard toxicities, we have seen that the combination is active in various tumor types, as we have seen prolongated stabilizations in advanced and resistant tumors to chemotherapy" .
With these encouraging results, the group has launched a phase II clinical trial. "We have completed the recruitment of patients, in this case, only sarcomas, to test whether this combination really works in these patients and whether it is better than current treatments."