HIV therapy shows promise against pancreatic cancer
News Aug 21, 2008
The first clinical trial to use an HIV drug as cancer therapy has shown that it can help increase chances of recovery from pancreatic cancer. When given in combination with the usual chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Nelfinavir helped shrink previously inoperable tumours so that they could be surgically removed.
Dr Thomas Brunner of the University of Oxford who led the trial explains:
‘‘Surgery to remove the cancerous tissue is currently the only chance of cure from pancreatic cancer but less than 20 percent of the tumours are suitable to be operated on. After treatment with Nelfinavir in addition to the usual radiotherapy and chemotherapy regime it was possible to remove cancerous tissue from six out of ten patients whose cancer was deemed inoperable before treatment.’’
The results are published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology; Dr Brunner said that this is the first publication of a clinical trial using a drug developed to target HIV in cancer therapy. The trial was supported by the Medical Research Council.
Dr Brunner and his colleagues are currently planning a phase II study in patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer. They will also investigate whether other HIV protease inhibitors, the class of drug Nelfinavir belongs too, could enhance treatment effects in other cancers.
Original research paper: Phase 1 trial of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Protease Inhibitor Nelfinavir and Chemoradiation for Local Advanced Pancreatic Cancer is published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.