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New Drug Promising Against Tough-to-Treat Kidney Cancer

Axitinib produced good responses in almost half of patients, study found

TUESDAY, Oct. 30 (HealthDay News) -- An experimental drug called axitinib shows promise for treating people with what's known as cytokine-refractory metastatic kidney cancer -- a group of patients who typically have a poor response to drug treatment.

Axitinib is a selective inhibitor of cancer-linked proteins known as vascular endothelial growth factor receptors 1, 2 and 3.

As reported in the November issue of The Lancet Oncology, the phase II study of 52 patients treated with the drug found that 23 patients had complete or partial responses (some of which were long lasting), and 12 of these patients progressed during the study, with a duration of response ranging from four months to 26 months.

The French researchers also found that 22 patients showed stable disease for longer than eight weeks, including 13 patients with stable disease for 24 weeks or longer.

Four patients had early disease progression, and 30 patients had high blood pressure related to the treatment. In general, side effects were manageable and controlled by dose modification or supportive care, the researchers said.

"The objective response and time to progression in our study suggest that axitinib might be a promising drug in the treatment of patients with metastatic renal-cell cancer, although a randomized controlled trial is needed to confirm this finding," study author Olivier Rixe, a professor in the department of medical oncology at the University of Paris, said in a prepared statement.

These findings "suggest that a drug such as axitinib has promise as a second-line treatment in cytokine-refractory metastatic renal-cell carcinoma and might have potential as first-line treatment or in combination with other agents," Dr. W. Marston Linehan of the U.S. National Cancer Institute, wrote in an accompanying comment.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about kidney cancer.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: The Lancet Oncology, news release, Oct. 30, 2007

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