Selumetinib, a small-molecule MEK inhibitor, controlled recurrent low-grade serous ovarian cancer in 81% of patients treated. Current first-line defense against this disease (surgery followed by cytotoxic chemotherapy) has met with limited success (AACR abstract CT-05).
The disease is a slow-growing cancer that does not respond well to traditional chemotherapies that target fast-growing cells.
A multicenter team of researchers, led by John Farley, MD, of Creighton University School of Medicine and St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska, used selumetinib to target the MEK-1/2 protein kinase in the MAPK pathway, known to mutate in this form of cancer.
Researchers assigned 52 women to 100 mg oral doses of selumetinib twice daily in 4-week cycles.
“The results were striking,” said Dr. Farley. Eight patients had complete or partial responses and 34 had stable disease.
“Many of the patients had received multiple rounds of chemotherapy and were running out of options,” said Dr. Farley. “By using these tumors’ historical inherent molecular aberrations to select patients for treatment that in theory could exploit these abnormalities, we took an important step toward individualized cancer therapies.”
Prior to the study, nearly 60% of the patients had received 3 or more rounds of chemotherapy. Median survival rate without cancer progression was 11 months, and 63% of patients had progression-free survival longer than 6 months.