The drug appears to work by controlling the growth of blood vessels, which is how this type of liver cancer is able to spread so rapidly.
At 12 weeks, one patient had a partial response and 17 saw their disease stabilize. Progression-free survival lasted an average of four months, and overall survival was 10 months, the researchers report.
"Even though the response rate to make the tumor smaller was observed in only one patient, 50 percent of the patients had stable disease and are doing well," Zhu said. "Sunitinib can be safely given, with close monitoring, to the majority of these patients," he said.
The treatment was well-tolerated, and there were low rates of all blood disorders, the researchers report. Because Sutent has been associated with increased risk of heart problems, all patients taking Sutent -- but especially those who have risks for heart disease -- need careful monitoring and treatment for high blood pressure and other signs of heart problems.
In a third report, researchers from the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia found that blood pressure-lowering drugs called angiotensin receptor blockers appear to retard pancreatic cancer cell growth and cause malignant cells to die.
This type of drug is able to inhibit the function of the hormone angiotensin II in the pancreas. The same receptor is found in pancreatic cancer cells. In laboratory experiments, the researchers found that the drug was able to block the production of a growth factor called VEGF, which helps spur the growth of tumor blood vessels.
"This is really exciting because the role of this receptor has never been known," lead researcher Dr. Hwyda Arafat said in a prepared statement. "It's never been connected to cell division or apoptosis. We're also now further exploring the mechanisms involved. The ex
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