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DNA repair drug benefits advanced cancer

Wednesday September 30th 2020

A novel treatment for advanced cancer has shown promising results in a recent trial, British researchers have announced.

The drug works by preventing cancer from repairing its DNA.

Professor Johann de Bono and colleagues at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, UK, gave the drug to 21 patients with advanced, heavily pre-treated solid tumours including breast, bowel and prostate cancer.

Participants had defects in genes that help coordinate DNA repair, most often affecting the ATM gene. The new drug, an ATR inhibitor called BAY1895344, was tested in this phase I trial for its safety and maximum tolerated dose.

It was well tolerated, say the researchers, and showed signs of effectiveness against over half of the patients’ advanced cancers. Eight patients showed halted tumour growth, and four patients - with ATM mutations - had a reduction in tumour size.

Details appeared yesterday (29 September) in Cancer Discovery.

The team explain that further trials are under way to adapt the drug into a new targeted treatment.

Professor de Bono said: “The new drug seems to be especially effective in patients whose tumours have defects in a gene called ATM which mean their ability to repair DNA is already weakened – suggesting that this could become a new form of targeted treatment.

“It is very promising to see patients responding in an early-stage trial like this, and we are looking forward to further clinical trials to test the drug’s efficacy.”

Professor Paul Workman of the Institute of Cancer Research commented: “I am hopeful that later-stage trials will show that this new class of ATR inhibitors can prove effective against cancers with defective systems for DNA repair, and we are keen to investigate whether they could prevent tumours from developing resistance to another important class of medicine called PARP inhibitors, which work in a similar way.”

Yap, T. A. et al. First-in-Human Trial of the Oral Ataxia Telangiectasia and Rad3-Related Inhibitor BAY 1895344 in Patients with Advanced Solid Tumors. Cancer Discovery 29 September 2020; doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-20-0868

Tags: Cancer | Genetics | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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