lenalidomide drug reduces survival rates in men with head and neck tumors

A drug for the treatment of head and neck cancer has shown a three-and-a-half-fold decrease in survival rate in a cohort of patients raising hope for its use in reducing death rates from aggressive types of cancer according to a study performed at Memorial Sloan Kettering The University of Southern California.

The study which will be published online Sept. 1 in Nature Medicine is one of the largest studies of the drug Lenalidomide which is available under the trade name nivolumab. The researchers examined data on a cohort of 46 patients who underwent prostate-cisectomy after being diagnosed with glioblastoma on or before March 31 2015.

Patients were randomly assigned to receive four months of caput HSD540 a small molecule inhibitor approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration to treat glioblastoma.

Patients enrolled in the study were treated with the drug or received a placebo. Their median age was 64 years and 58 were female according to Megan Phillips Ph. D. neurosurgeon and co-principal investigator of the study which was conducted at Sloan Kettering in Des Moines Iowa. As required by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration participants underwent head and neck biopsies while on the study waitlist and again after each four-month period up to a total of 259 patients.

All patients tested positive for VEGF-3 an irregularity in the VEGF protein that is linked to glioblastoma. Patients with high doses of the protein were more likely than other groups to fail.

Twenty-four percent of patients enrolled in the study had no post-treatment cancer. Similarly the study showed that those who received the drug were less likely to have their cancer recur in other organs such as the lung liver and bone.

These results are very encouraging to patients and their doctors. The drug was safe and well-tolerated said Phillips. If further studies can be shown that the drugs benefit is sustained in glioblastoma and some other cancers there might be a chance that drugs like this might be used as a means to reduce the number of strokes and other short-term losses of life that occur in cancer patients.

Patients were randomized to both receive chemotherapy and undergo an extensive radiation therapy regimen after spending just one month on the investigational drug or placebo. Although patients were required to be followed for one year after their first cancer-related death the study found no safety concerns.

Patient progress was very uniform explained Phillips.

There were no signs of toxicity unlike with chemotherapy there was no new or worse side effects and it was just these natural gradual effects that are so striking to you said Phillips. Some patients stopped the drug early on found ketogenic diet itrenia which required some refilling. Other patients started with an IV of the drug thought that diet would give it back and it didnt. Other patients stopped the drug during the first week of hospital stay found ketogenic diet and stopped it.